Rauseo’s 5 RBI, Steve Ascher’s pitching pave way for Tuckers on opening day

GEORGE FAELLA PHOTO | Steve Ascher fired 13 strikeouts for Mattituck, allowing two hits over six innings in a season-opening shutout of Southold.

For some high school baseball players, five runs batted in is a season. Yianni Rauseo can call it a day’s work.

A grand slam and five RBI by Rauseo, coupled with six innings of two-hit pitching by Steve Ascher, helped the Mattituck Tuckers cruise to an 8-0 season-opening win over the Southold First Settlers on Friday. It was the 99th career win for Steve De Caro, who is in his ninth season as Mattituck’s coach.

“We just wanted a win,” said Ascher, who turned in a 13-strikeout performance with three walks in the non-league game at Mattituck High School that was postponed by a day because of a wet field. “We were definitely ready for it. I think we played well. There’s not much that we did wrong.”

Rauseo, the No. 5 batter in Mattituck’s order, went deep in his first at-bat, clocking an inside fastball on a 3-2 count over the left-field fence in the first inning for his first career grand slam. The Tuckers had loaded the bases on an infield single by George Lessard, a walk by Nick Bieber and a hit batsman (it was the first of three times that Greg Siliris was hit by a pitch in the game).

GEORGE FAELLA PHOTO | Southold second baseman Luke Hokanson fielded a ground ball during Friday's season opener in Mattituck.

“I was seeing the ball very well today and just waiting for my pitch on the inner half of the plate,” Rauseo said. “I’m just trying to get the RBIs in, but it’s a good way to start it off.”

Mattituck extended its lead to 7-0 in the third. Ryan Finger drove a two-run double over left fielder Matt Stepnoski’s head and James Finora scored Tom Ascher from third base on a sacrifice bunt.

Meanwhile, Mattituck benefitted from a dominating performance by its starting pitcher. Steve Ascher, a senior left-hander, struck out six of the first eight batters he faced and remained strong over the course of his 97-pitch outing before Finger relieved him for the final inning.

Steve Ascher did a good job of mixing fastballs, sliders and curveballs to keep the First Settlers guessing. Although it was cold, the weather didn’t seem to faze him. “I was hitting the outside corner to righties and the inside corner to lefties,” he said.

“He realizes now as he gets older that mixing up his pitches, keeping batters off [their] stride, is going to be one of his big things,” Mattituck’s assistant coach, Gene Rochler, said. “He’s much better at it now.”

The only hit Steve Ascher allowed came on a wind-aided double by Kyle Clausen to right field in the fourth inning. A catcher’s interference call allowed Andrew Conway to reach base in the second.

“Ascher threw a great game,” Southold Coach Mike Carver said. “I don’t care if it [would have been] midway through the season, it was a great game.”

The young League VIII Southold team had its work cut out against League VII Mattituck. Four First Settlers made their varsity debuts, and Carver indicated that some nerves might have been at play.

Clausen, who pitched the first three and one-third innings of the game before moving to shortstop, didn’t sound concerned about his team’s hitting. “We haven’t seen much live pitching yet so far,” he said. “I think when we get into the flow of games … our hitting will start coming around.”

Carver said he will take the positives out of this game, primarily the two and two-third innings of relief provided by freshman Rob Mahoney, who allowed one hit, one walk and fanned three in his first varsity game. He also hit a batter.

Defensively, Carver liked Stepnoski’s snag of a line drive hit by Steve Ascher with two runners on base for the third out in the second inning and a well-turned 5-4-3 double play in the fifth.

“They beat us,” Carver said. “We didn’t beat ourselves, and that’s positive.”

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