SAG HARBOR — Steve De Caro regarded it as an omen when he saw a majestic osprey flying over Mashashimuet Park on Saturday. The mascot of the Mattituck Tuckers, the high school baseball team that De Caro coaches, is an osprey, after all.
“When I saw the osprey come out of its nest I thought that was a good sign,” he said.
From that point on, just about everything went Mattituck’s way as the Tuckers brought De Caro his 100th career win as Mattituck’s coach by downing the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers, 11-1, in a non-league game.
Afterwards, De Caro said just about anything he could to downplay the 100th win, joking that he should have gotten it years ago.
“It’s just a win,” he said. “It’s not a big deal.”
Still, 100 wins is 100 wins, a milestone.
Pierson/Bridgehampton Coach Jon Tortorella knows that milestone represents “a lot of work. It’s not an easy job. It’s not easy to get these boys to play and to win.”
De Caro, who had coached junior varsity teams at defunct Berner High School for two years and Levittown Division for 16 years before taking over the Tuckers’ varsity job, has a nine-year record of 100-87 (.535) at Mattituck. He is well-known among players, fans and the community for his blunt, humorous style.
“Never boring, always entertaining,” said Mattituck third baseman Ryan Finger.
“He’s unique,” Mattituck pitcher Tom Ascher said, smiling with De Caro within listening range. “Well, it’s his way. So, I mean, you get used to it eventually. It’s nice to actually be a senior now and not get yelled at as much.”
Although De Caro was visibly and audibly displeased with how his team handled fielding practice before the game, he couldn’t be unhappy with how the Tuckers (2-0) performed in the game. They produced 11 hits, a seven-run rally to seal things in the seventh inning and for the second time in as many days received a standout pitching performance from an Ascher.
Senior right-hander Tom Ascher (1-0) picked up the win, striking out nine and giving up one hit and two walks in five innings of work. (His twin brother, Steve, struck out 13 in a season-opening win over the Southold First Settlers on Friday). Tom Ascher also drove in three runs as did Finger and John Schultz (3 for 4). Nick Bieber knocked in two runs.
“It’s nice being able to hit from one to nine,” Tom Ascher said. “It hasn’t happened in the last two years.”
Schultz helped Mattituck to a 2-0 lead in the second inning when he swatted a single to right field that scored Yianni Rauseo and Tom Ascher.
Mattituck doubled its lead in the sixth when Tom Ascher belted a two-run double.
Pierson/Bridgehampton (0-2), which was held to three hits on the cold, windy day, pulled a run back in the sixth, courtesy of Sean Romeo’s sacrifice fly.
But then, when Mattituck came to bat in the seventh, it made 13 plate appearances and churned out seven runs. The big hit of the inning was a bases-clearing triple by Finger that brought in three runs. Bieber and Schultz both singled in runs and Tom Ascher and Bieber both drew bases-loaded walks during the rally.
“You could tell when the momentum started picking up with the first hit and then the walks,” Finger said. “You knew something was coming. It was just a buildup to more runs.”
“They’re a very well-disciplined team,” Tortorella said of the Tuckers. “They do a lot of the little things right, stealing bases, bunting.”
De Caro said it is more important to him that his team has started the season well than he won his 100th game. He said he has enjoyed his time with the Tuckers.
“Mattituck is special,” De Caro said. “I love Mattituck. I love the kids. They’re baseball guys. They’re fun to be with. I’m having a great time this year.”