The undefeated record is no more.
Southold, which had been the last unbeaten high school baseball team in Suffolk County, now has a mark against it in the “L” column. The First Settlers finally suffered a loss on Thursday, and it took a tremendous effort by Mattituck in a tremendous game to make it happen.
The anticipated matchup between the top two teams in League VIII lived up to expectations. It was Southold, the defending Southeast Region Class C champion, against Mattituck, the defending state Class B champion. They didn’t disappoint.
After falling into a 5-0 hole and bouncing back to force extra innings, Southold saw its 15-game win streak snapped when Victor Proferes’ walk-off hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning brought Mattituck a 6-5 triumph.
Joe Tardif led off by drawing a walk before relief pitcher Dylan Clausen retired the next two batters. First base was left open when Tardif stole second base, prompting an intentional walk to Jon Dwyer. Then Proferes stepped into the batter’s box with a chance to be a hero. He drove a ball that diving right fielder Doug Fiedler couldn’t reach, scoring Tardif and putting an end to a drama that lasted nearly three hours at Mattituck High School.
Proferes (3 for 3, two runs batted in) had the rare trifecta of a blown save, a win in relief and the winning hit, all in the same game.
Mattituck (13-2, 11-2) was two outs away from winning the game in seven innings. Noah Mina was on a first base after leading off the seventh with a hit. Greg Gehring struck a potential game-ending, double-play ball that shot under shortstop Matt Heffernan’s glove, leaving two runners on base. Clausen was intentionally walked to load the bases and a groundout by Shane Zimmer evened the score at 5-5.
The weather was nasty, with a light mist falling at the start of the game and the temperature around 50 degrees. A cold wind blew across toward right field.
But the First Settlers (15-1, 15-1) must have felt a chill by their early struggles. Mattituck’s Bryce Grathwohl, Dwyer and Proferes each singled in a run for a 3-0 lead in a long first inning.
Mattituck tacked on a fourth run in the third. Proferes banged a grounder into left field for a hit, advanced to second on a fielder’s choice, stole third base and scored on a wild pitch.
The lead was extended to 5-0 in the fifth. Successive walks by Grathwohl, Dwyer and Proferes were followed by James McDonald’s sacrifice fly.
But Southold showed it was not going to go down easily. The First Settlers finally got to Mattituck’s starting pitcher, Tardif, in the sixth, when they put up four runs — one on a groundout by Zimmer, two on a triple by Fiedler and one on an Adam Baldwin single.
Both teams sent their aces to the mound for the only regular-season contest between the neighboring North Fork teams.
Pat McFarland worked four innings for Southold, giving up six hits and a walk with six strikeouts before two lefthanders, Fiedler and Clausen, picked things up from there.
Tardif lasted six innings, allowing seven hits, a walk and striking out seven. He threw 113 pitches before moving to center field. In addition, the senior had three hits and stole three bases.
Photo caption: Mattituck’s Joe Tardif dives back safely to first base while Southold’s Adam Baldwin receives the ball on a pickoff attempt. (Credit: Garret Meade)