SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS B FINALS, GAME 1 | TUCKERS 7, PANTHERS 0
Joe Tardif has a knack for amazing people with his athletic exploits. He did it again on Tuesday — with his pitching arm, his bat and his glove.
Tardif delivered a fine pitching performance, drove in four runs (three from a home run) and made one of the nicest fielding plays of the day as Mattituck took the first game of the Suffolk County Class B baseball finals, 7-0 over Babylon. The top-seeded Tuckers (22-1) can wrap up their fifth county championship in 13 years on Wednesday if they win the second game in Babylon.
If there is one team that may hold the secret to defeating the Tuckers, it is No. 2 Babylon (17-5), which is responsible for the team’s sole loss this year.
But Babylon’s coach, Anthony Sparacio, said his Panthers need to play a close to perfect game in order for that to happen. And when Tardif (7-1) pitches like he did on Tuesday, there isn’t much an opposing team can do. The junior right-hander worked tough inside pitches — dancing on air with late movement — on righty batters, making things difficult for them.
Babylon didn’t manage a hit until Brandon Beierle shot a one-out single into left field in the fifth.
Kenneth Gordon looped a one-out single into center field in the sixth for the only other hit off Tardif, who struck out seven and did not issue a walk.
It seemed as if there wasn’t much that Tardif didn’t do in what could be Mattituck’s final home game of the season. Tardif hit two batters that inning as Babylon mounted a threat, loading the bases with two outs for its designated hitter, Ryan Matthews. Matthews bounced a squibber not far from the third-base line that looked like trouble. Tardif, quick to hop off the mound, called off third baseman Victor Proferes and made the throw to first for the out.
If Tardif was looking for run support, all he had to do was look in the mirror. After Mike Onufrak and Jon Dwyer both singled in the fourth, Tardif caught hold of a pitch, lofting a high, wind-aided home run over the left-field fence for a 6-0 lead. It was his second homer of the season.
For an insurance run the following inning, a ground-rule double by Proferes brought home Ian Nish, who had led off with a single.
Perhaps the only mistake the speedy Tardif made was in the second when, after smacking a run-scoring double past diving shortstop Kenneth Gordon, he got caught in a pickle and was tagged out.
The Tuckers’ first two batters of the game, Tardif and Marcos Perivolaris, both drew walks to set up Nish’s two-run single for a 2-0 lead in the first.