Perkins’ two-hitter picks up Tuckers

Brittney Timulty of Mattituck tried to drive this pitch far.

For three-and-one-third innings, Mattituck pitcher Sara Perkins had a no-hitter going. Between the second and third innings she struck out six straight Southold/Greenport batters. Entering the fourth she was looking for more.

After a walk, Perkins struck out Callie Bubb for the seventh of her 10 strikeouts in the Tuckers’ 15-2 defeat of the Clippers on Saturday afternoon at Mattituck High School. It was not until Nicole Busso singled to center field with one out in the fourth to drive home Erin Creeden that the Clippers broke up Perkins’ no-hit bid for the Tuckers.

With the result, Mattituck brought its record to 2-1, 1-0 in Suffolk County League VIII. Southold/Greenport dropped to 0-3, 0-2.

“Today was the best I’ve seen her pitch this season,” Tuckers Coach Kelly Pickering said of Perkins. “She had more control than usual. I think the more she pitches, the more comfortable she gets on the mound.”

Perkins mixed the occasional changeup in to keep the Clippers off-balance at the plate. One batter she did not fool was Actavia Weekes, who had been brought up from the junior varsity squad to help fill out a roster dotted with players away on spring break. The game had initially been scheduled for March 29, but was rained out. The same thing happened when the teams tried to play again last Wednesday.

In her first at-bat, Weekes pumped her fist after fouling a pitch off. When she came to bat again in the fifth, she hit a solid single to center field, one of only two hits Perkins gave up.

“She’s learning,” Clippers Coach Cindy Sepenoski said of Weekes. “She’s never played varsity. It was exciting. She never expected to get a hit.”

Sepenoski added that Weekes was a little scared at the plate in part because she had never seen such fast pitching before. Weekes received a rousing cheer from her teammates.

Like Weekes, many Clippers do not have much in the way of varsity experience. The roster has been nearly completely made over from a team that finished 6-11 last year. Among the new faces is junior pitcher Danielle Alpi, a transfer from Danbury, Conn. Alpi’s control, though, was shaky. She ran several three-ball counts while issuing seven walks and throwing five wild pitches. But when Alpi was able to spot her pitchers where she wanted, she induced several pop-ups and struck out four batters.

“Every day she’s getting better,” Sepenoski said.

Alpi settled down after a rough first inning in which the Tuckers batted through the order. Leadoff hitter Lilly McCullough came to the plate twice. McCullough drew a walk in her first at-bat, stole second and came around when Ashley Finger doubled to center field to tie the score at 1. Two wild pitches later, Finger scored to put the Tuckers up for good.

Aggressive base running was the order of the day for the Tuckers. They stole and took extra bases as much as they could. From her position in the third-base coaching box, Pickering was waving Mattituck runners around the base path as fast as she could move her arms.

The strategy worked nearly flawlessly in the bottom of the fourth when the Tuckers put the game away for good. They beat several throws from Clippers infielders at first base and second. Their speed and aggressiveness allowed them to send 12 batters to the plate and score seven runs.

With the win, the Tuckers are one victory away from matching last season’s total, when they finished 3-12. Since being shut out in their season opener against Longwood, the Tuckers have outscored their opponents, 28-9. And they are doing this despite having been unable to practice at various times because of inclement weather.

When the pouring rain postponed the game twice, the Clippers could at least practice indoors, where Sepenoski said she has seen vast improvement since the preseason. The Tuckers, meanwhile, had no indoor facility to move to, Pickering said. The high school gym is undergoing repairs.

Despite not being able to get the team outside for practice until Thursday, Pickering was happy with what she saw.

“I think it’s a confidence-builder,” Pickering said. “It was a good win for them today.”

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