BAYPORT—It was business as usual for the Mattituck Tuckers on Tuesday afternoon.
In other words, they played in what many people would consider unusual weather conditions as senior left-hander Steve Ascher kept Bayport-Blue Point in a fog with another dominating performance.
Ascher hurled a two-hitter while striking out seven batters in the Tuckers’ 6-1 win over Bayport-Blue Point in the Suffolk County League VII encounter.
“Steve pitched a beauty,” Mattituck coach Steve DeCaro said. “We expect Steve to pitch a beauty all the time. He was good, mixed speeds well. Except for the whacky pickoff move, he was in control the whole game. It was good. It was a typical Steve Ascher kind of game. It was beautiful.”
No one said that about the conditions.
Slowly, but surely, the fog rolled in. It got progressively worse during the game. It did not help that temperatures dropped from at least 10-15 degrees from the forecast of more than 70-degree temperatures and with a brisk wind. The umpires had the foresight to push the 4:30 p.m. starting time to 10 minutes earlier as a precaution.
If the Tuckers (10-1, 8-1) were affected, they did not show it.
“We practice in every weather,” Ascher said. “We get used to it. It’s actually normal.”
“I’m going to be honest with you,” DeCaro said, “we’ve played every game in conditions like this. We played the other day in just these conditions, except it was cooler. This spring, we’re used to this, I hate to say. I think if there was a fiery orange orb in the sky and no clouds, we wouldn’t know what to do.”
Ascher’s pitching strategy made sure the Phantoms (5-6, 5-5) did not hit many balls into the outfield, where the fog was the thickest.
“I just try to keep it down so they hit ground balls,” he said. “I’ll throw it up once in a while to see if someone chases to get them out. But usually I try to keep it down for grounders.”
Both of the Phantoms’ fly balls were hit in the fifth inning, one caught by center fielder Yianni Rauseo.
“It was just in and out with the fog,” he said. “It was tough to see the ball. The infielders keep pointing where the ball was. It gives you a great idea where the ball is. So it helps. It was a tough play because I was on the run and the fog. It was hard to judge the ball, but luckily I made it.”
When it came to hitting, it was more skill than luck for Rauseo, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI. He wound up in the middle of both Mattituck rallies.
After Ryan Finger’s run-scoring single, Rauseo scored the Tuckers’ second run on a fielder’s choice during a two-run second. He added a run-scoring double that capped a four-run fifth inning that included George Lessard’s RBI single and Tom Ascher’s two-run double.
Rauseo hit at the first pitch every time in his three at-bats.
“When he gives me a fastball right down the middle, I’m going to hit it,” he said. “That’s what I look for. If I don’t get that, then I’m not going to swing.”
The Tuckers, who host Bayport Thursday, gave Ascher more than enough runs. His only hiccup came during that “whacky pickoff move” in the fourth when he overthrew Lessard at second base trying to get Jack Piekos, who had doubled. Joe Liberatore, who was on third, scored.
“With him on the mound, all we need is two or three runs to get the win,” Rauseo said.
Harry Dubin had the Phantoms’ only other hit — in the seventh inning.
“He was really good,” Bayport coach Jim Moccio said. “He kept challenging us with his fastball. We never turned it around on him. We didn’t force him to make any adjustments in his plan.”
Ascher, who allowed five base runners, walked off the mound satisfied.
“I think I did well,” he said. “I didn’t strike out as many people as I usually do. But there were a lot of infield ground balls and I know my infield could make them. I was confident.”
Just another performance of keeping his foes in a fog.