Wednesday’s Mattituck-Southampton matchup offered just about everything one could ask of a high school baseball game. It had quality pitching, exceptional play in the field and big hits, not to mention excitement, drama and suspense.
Yet, what may be most amazing of all is this: The game isn’t over yet.
It looked like the race for the Suffolk County League VIII championship would come down to the wire and it has — and then some.
The game at Southampton High School was suspended with the score tied at 4-4 after 13 innings because of darkness. It is to be resumed Friday, with the league crown still up for grabs.
“It’s definitely one of the craziest games I’ve ever played in my life,” said Mattituck shortstop Matt Heffernan.
Entering Wednesday’s action, Southampton (14-4, 14-4), Mattituck (14-5, 14-5) and Center Moriches (13-5, 13-5) were all within a game of each other. Mattituck is vying for what would be a fourth straight league title.
James McDonald, who had gone 0-for-5 in his first five at-bats, may have thought he won the game for Mattituck when he led off the 13th inning by belting an opposite-field home run over rightfield. His first homer of the season snapped a 3-3 tie.
“We had the momentum right there,” he said.
And then Southampton took it back.
In the bottom half of the inning, Jem Sisco slammed a double and scored the tying run one out later on Thomas Gabriele’s single.
Mattituck’s Ryan McCaffrey and Southampton’s Devon O’Brien both clocked two-run homers.
The Tuckers held a 2-0 lead two batters into the game thanks to McCaffrey, who drove a low pitch over the centerfield fence for his second homer of the season.
Southampton pulled a run back later in the inning when Chad Pike scored on a wild pitch.
Mattituck restored its two-run lead in the fifth when a walk and a steal by McCaffrey set up a hard-driven RBI single that Heffernan smashed off the first baseman.
Mattituck received fine pitching from Brendan Kent, Tyler Williams and McCaffrey. Altogether they limited Southampton to four hits through 13 innings. Kent started, allowing two hits over six innings before Williams worked the next four innings.
One of Southampton’s hits was O’Brien’s two-out blast, which went high and far over rightfield, evening the score at 3-3.
Mattituck faced some tough pitching itself. Sisco, a righthander with a dramatically high leg kick, showed why he has a 5-1 record. He pitched the first five innings, allowing four hits and five walks, with eight strikeouts.
Some sparkling defense on both sides added to the game’s luster. Heffernan made what might have been the play of the day in the 10th. With a runner on base, he raced back into centerfield to make an amazing grab of a fly ball hit by O’Brien for the third out.
“When you have confidence in your pitcher and your teammates behind you, it’s pretty easy to have confidence in yourself to make the play,” he said.
In the top of the inning, Southampton’s shortstop, Pike, had saved a run. Mattituck had the bases loaded with two outs when Sam Dickerson smacked a hard grounder. Pike not only made the stop, but also the throw to first.
“It’s just a marathon,” McDonald said. “It was crazy, a bunch of swings back and forth.”
Following the 12th inning, with the setting sun low in the sky, the home-plate umpire indicated he was going to stop the game. However, after conferring with both sides, he consented to continuing. The teams played another inning before the game was suspended 3 hours, 25 minutes after it had started.
This is Mattituck’s final game of a regular season that has been extended.
“Wasn’t that an awesome game, though?” Mattituck coach Steve DeCaro asked afterward. “The greatest game in the world.”
And it’s not over yet.
To be continued …