Baseball: Ascher escapes early jams to improve to 7-0

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Mattituck lefty Steve Ascher gave up one run in six innings Tuesday against Mount Sinai.

Four batters into Tuesday’s game, Mount Sinai accomplished a feat only one other team had done all season. The Mustangs scored an earned run off Mattituck lefty Steve Ascher.

“He’s just been spot on with everything he’s done,” said Mattituck catcher Greg Siliris.

The lonely blemish in the first inning may have been a bit of a shock. But over the next five innings it was vintage Ascher. He struck out 10 Mount Sinai batters, did not give up another run, and improved his record to 7-0 as Mattituck won 8-4 at Mount Sinai High School in the first of a two-game series.

Ascher pitched six innings and gave up seven hits. The Mustangs rallied for three runs in the seventh once Ascher exited and loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the plate. Mattituck brought in Tom Ascher to face first baseman Joe Pidoto, who lined a ball into center field that was caught to end the game.

Mattituck improved to 12-2 in League VII while Mount Sinai fell to 9-5, which means the Mustangs will likely have to run the table for a shot at the league title. The Tuckers, meanwhile, find themselves in a tight race with John Glenn for the top spot. The Knights also have two losses.

“Everything’s big for us now,” said Mattituck coach Steve De Caro. “Really we’re just trying to tune up for the playoffs.”

The Tuckers did all their damage at the plate in the middle innings. They scored three in the third, two in the fourth and three in the fifth. Tom Ascher (3 for 3, 2 runs) started it off with an RBI single in the third and Siliris (2 for 3, 3 RBIs) followed with a two-run single. All three of Mattituck’s runs in the third inning were unearned.

Mount Sinai starter Danny Paray took the loss. He gave up eight runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked three.

“We knew he was going to throw hard,” Siliris said. “He’s a really good pitcher and I was just thinking opposite side and just tried to hit him the other way.”

While the Tuckers capitalized on Mount Sinai’s mistakes, the Mustangs couldn’t make the most of their opportunities. After grabbing the early 1-0 lead, the Mustangs had runners at the corners with one out in the second. The inning ended with a strike out/caught stealing double play. Then in the third the Mustangs loaded the bases with nobody out and couldn’t score.

Ascher came back to get a pop-up to shortstop and two strikeouts to escape the jam.

“It was big for our team,” De Caro said. “Our team depends on him. We dug him a little hole and he got us out of it again and we kind of expect that from him.”

Mount Sinai coach Eric Reichenbach said if his team could have gotten a few more hits early, it could have helped change the complexion of the game and allowed the Mustangs to do some more things offensively, like hit and run.

“When the score’s 8-1 your offense just shuts down and you’re going base to base,” Reichenbach said.

The Mustangs got two runners in scoring position in the fourth inning with two out. Center fielder Doug Putkowski was bidding for his third straight hit when he came up. He hit a ball back up the middle that ricocheted off the mound and took a big hop right to the second baseman who made the play to end the inning. Putkowski finished the game 3 for 4 with 2 runs and an RBI. He tripled and scored in the first inning.

After Steve Ascher walked the leadoff man in the fifth, he struck out the next three batters and he fanned two more in the sixth.

“He’s made some strides from last year,” Reichenbach said. “Last year we got the best of him and this year he got the best of us. He did what he had to do. He was around the plate, throwing strikes and mixing in his breaking ball.”

Paray reached base four times with two singles and two walks. Catcher Mark Donodio was 2 for 4 with an RBI and run. Avery Floyd started the game at DH and came in to pitch with two out in the fifth. He threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings and Anthony Flynn pitched a one-two-three seventh for Mount Sinai.

Marcos Perivolaris was 2 for 4 with a double and 3 RBIs for Mattituck out of the nine hole.

The Mustangs came into the year with a lot of question marks surrounding their pitching staff. The results so far have been mostly positive. That the team currently has nine league wins is more than Reichenbach could have hoped for.

“I didn’t think we’d be in this position,” he said. “Happily we are, but we still have a long way to go if we’re going to try to do something in the playoffs.”

The Mustangs still need one more win to lock up a return trip to the Class A playoffs. Mattituck is a Class B team.