2011 Top Sports Story No. 4: L.I. champion Tuckers reach end of road

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | An airborne Yianni Rauseo leapt onto the top of the pile after Mattituck beat Oyster Bay in the Long Island Class B final.

One thing was certain: an Ascher would be on the mound, pitching for the Mattituck baseball team in the Southeast Region Class B final. The question was, which one would it be, Steve Ascher or his twin brother, Tom?

The answer was both.

Tom Ascher started the game, but after the first inning said he felt stiffness in his arm and couldn’t continue. Steve Ascher, who had pitched 12 innings in the Tuckers’ previous two playoff wins, threw the final three innings for Mattituck, but he couldn’t save his team from a 9-8 loss to Briarcliff at Pace University’s Westchester campus.

With the score tied at 8-8 and two out in the bottom of the sixth inning, a Mattituck outfielder couldn’t haul in a fly ball that skipped off his mitt and allowed Briarcliff’s Brendan Weinstein to score from third base. The run gave the Bears the decisive run in a see-saw battle that featured three ties and five lead changes.

“It’s not exactly how we wanted it to end,” Mattituck coach Steve De Caro said, “but they’re a great team.”

Mattituck wasn’t bad itself. The Tuckers went 20-6. Most of those wins came on the arm of Steve Ascher, a senior southpaw with an 11-1 record.

With only two and a half days of rest between starts, Steve Ascher tossed a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts in an 8-0 defeat of Oyster Bay in the Long Island final at Farmingdale State College.

Steve Ascher said there was never a question of him not starting that game, not even after having thrown five innings in a 25-6 blowout of Babylon in the Suffolk County final. After that game, while the rest of the team went out to dinner to celebrate, he stayed home and iced his arm.

That must have been some icing job because he tossed a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts and no walks against Oyster Bay. “It’s my best pitching this year,” Steve Ascher said. “I don’t know. I guess it’s just adrenaline.”

Steve Ascher retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced (one reached base on an error) before giving up Oyster Bay’s only hit. Using his fastball to spot the outside corners, Ascher looked sharp, striking out seven different batters, including two three times and one twice.

“On only two and a half days of rest, it’s really amazing,” Mattituck center fielder Yianni Rauseo said. “You can’t ask for Steve to do any more.”

Even after the regional final defeat, Mattituck third baseman Travis Zurawski was able to keep things in perspective. “The season was still a total success,” he said. “We worked hard all year and we made it here.”

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