CLASS B STATE SEMIFINALS | TUCKERS 7, BLUE DEVILS 2
As the coach of the team that traveled the farthest to Binghamton for the Class B state semifinals, Steve DeCaro had the honor of calling the coin flip that determined which team was designated the home team.
“As always, I lost,” DeCaro said. “And when that happened, we felt good.”
The Tuckers got the chance to hit first, and they quickly jumped on Ogdensburg Free Academy with two runs. With Joe Tardif on the mound, the Tuckers knew any lead would give them a golden opportunity to make history.
Tardif delivered another virtuoso performance, pitching a four-hitter and giving up one earned run in a 7-2 victory that sends the Tuckers into the Class B state finals at 4 p.m.
The win at Broome Community College Saturday morning propelled the Tuckers into their first ever state championship game, where they’ll face either Livonia or Westhill. Those teams play at 1 p.m.
“We’ve all been playing together for probably about 10 years,” Tardif said. “And this is all I wanted to do and I got the opportunity.”
Tardif improved to 7-1 this season and the Tuckers will turn to their second ace, the undefeated Marcos Perivolaris (9-0) in the state championship game.
The Tuckers, after stranding several runners in scoring position early in the game, blew it open with a four-run sixth inning off Blue Devils starter Seth Pinkerton, the team’s captain.
Pinkerton, who will play for the University of Hartford next year, gave up seven hits, nearly all of which came in the sixth.
The Tuckers led off the inning with four straight hits, including three doubles. Chris Dwyer doubled in a run for the fourth of those consecutive hits.
With a lineup as deep as the Tuckers have, it was only a matter of time before they broke through with a big inning.
“It’s tough for me to remember that sooner or later, it’s going to come through,” DeCaro said. “We’re going to see a pitcher a couple times and when we see him enough, we’re going to hit him.”
“We’re a very strong lineup,” added catcher Mike Onufrak. “Everyone on this team can hit.”
Onufrak helped the Tuckers break through when he singled home a run in the fifth inning that made it 3-1. The two-out hit gave the Tuckers some breathing room and set the stage for the big sixth inning.
The Tuckers got RBI hits from four different players. John Dwyer started the rally in the sixth with a leadoff double. Tardif, Perivolaris, and Chris Dwyer all followed with hits.
The Blue Devils scored one in the bottom of the second on an RBI single from Jon Rogers. Tardif bounced back to blank the Blue Devils the next three innings before they scored an unearned run in the sixth. At that point, the Tuckers had already built a six-run lead.
Tardif said he relied on his fastball on the outside corner throughout the game.
“That’s where I like to live,” he said. “I kept trying to spot it up. Wasn’t getting too many calls. But got enough.”
Tardif struck out two — the first two batters of the game — and walked one. He mostly relied on his defense behind him, and even made several plays himself on grounders back to the mound.
“Joe throws like he usually does,” Onufrak added. “He throws stikes, he throws hard. He gets it done.”
The Tuckers improved to 26-1 and the Blue Devils dropped to 18-6 to finish the season.
The Tuckers will have a chance to relax for a few hours while the coaches scout their opponent in for the finals.
“We’re going to let the kids feel good about themselves for the next three hours before I start yelling at them again,” DeCaro said.