Steve De Caro is looking to right the ship.
De Caro and his Mattituck Tuckers baseball team headed into this season with high expectations and the hope of returning to the playoffs after a one-year absence. But once they suffered a couple of key injuries, it took its toll on the pitching staff and the season quickly turned into dishwater.
The Tuckers concluded the season by getting thumped twice by the Mount Sinai Mustangs, 14-4 in Mattituck last Wednesday, and then by 12-2 the next day in Mount Sinai.
Ian Schneider and Nick D’Angelo each had four hits for the Mustangs in Mattituck. Schneider homered and drove in four runs. D’Angelo had a pair of doubles and scored four times.
Ryan Freer, making his first varsity start for the Tuckers (5-15, 3-15 in Suffolk County League VII), went three innings and took the loss. Greg Siliris had two hits and knocked in two runs for Mattituck.
Travis Zurewski made his first varsity start for the Tuckers the next day. He went four innings and was the losing pitcher. D’Angelo smacked a pair of home runs. Schneider also homered for the Mustangs. Steve Ascher hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning for Mattituck’s only runs.
The win clinched Mount Sinai’s first League VII championship in school history, bringing the Mustangs’ record to 14-6, 14-4 in league play.
For De Caro, who had set his sights on returning to the postseason, things turned out quite differently. Yes, there were big wins against Bayport-Blue Point, Elwood/John Glenn and Center Moriches. But in the end, it simply was not enough to get his team to the playoffs.
“We thought we had a good shot at the playoffs,” he said. “But the injuries were a big issue for us. After that, we had to scramble and our pitching staff got tired and we faded down the stretch of the season.”
But De Caro pointed to the return of a healthy Siliris, and the play of Steve Ascher, Kevin Polak and Tom Ascher as bright spots. All of the team’s pitchers are expected to return next season.
“We are happy they will be back and they will be better, but we need to improve our fielding,” De Caro said. “We were too up and down. We were not on an even keel this season. But we have just got to stay the course. For some of these guys, they have now seen the varsity level of play and they know what’s in store.”