Baseball Preview: Mattituck lost a lot, but still has weapons

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Travis Zurawski was an all-league player for Mattituck last year, hitting .333 with five doubles and nine stolen bases.

When one considers the amount of talent that the Mattituck baseball team lost to graduation, it sounds downright depressing for the Tuckers’ prospects in 2012. Steve Ascher, his twin brother Tom Ascher, Yianni Rauseo and Greg Siliris — all standouts — are all gone, having moved on.

On the other hand, look at who the Tuckers have back. With six starters returning, the Tuckers are hardly in a rebuilding mode. They should still be competitive and fight for a playoff berth.

“We like to say we’re reloading,” said coach Steve De Caro, who will bring a 118-93 (.559) career record into his 10th season in charge of the Tuckers. “We have a bunch of guys back, and they know what’s going on. We’re expecting good things to happen.”

Plenty of good things happened last year for Mattituck (20-6), which won a Long Island Class B championship and came within one win of a place in the New York State final four, losing to Briarcliff in a regional final.

“I would say that last season, for the coaches at least, and I’m pretty sure for the players, too, was probably the most enjoyable season that we ever had,” said De Caro.

Sure, Mattituck took a hit with graduation, but there is still a lot for the Tuckers to look forward to this coming season, starting with Travis Zurawski’s senior season. Zurawski was an all-league selection last season, with a .333 batting average, five doubles and nine stolen bases. He is the No. 1 pitcher and will play third base when he is not on the mound.

“He looks great at the plate, and his pitching has been exactly what we’ve seen,” said De Caro.

On paper, at least, it looks as if Mattituck suffered a blow to its pitching. It has said goodbye to its entire starting rotation from last year. To illustrate how much the Tuckers have lost in the way of pitching, consider this: Of the 172 innings pitched last season, 141 2/3 of them (as well as 18 of the team’s wins) were provided by pitchers no longer on the team.

But even here there is no need for panic. De Caro said he is looking at John Schultz, Ryan Finger and Cameron Burt as candidates for the last two spots in the starting rotation. With 19 innings pitched last season, Finger has the most experience among them, having gone 1-1 with a 2.58 earned run average last season. Opponents batted .198 against him.

“After them, we think we have a pretty good bullpen,” said De Caro, who noted that eight of the 13 team members pitch. “We’re in pretty good shape, I think, pitching-wise.”

Marcos Perivolaris was one of the biggest finds for Mattituck last year, winning the starting shortstop position as an eighth-grader. In De Caro’s 10 years at Mattituck, the Tuckers never had the same first-string shortstop for two years in a row, and before Perivolaris, it had always been a senior. Now Perivolaris has the chance to become a five-year varsity starter at the position.

“We’ve had some great shortstops come through here — Bret Moyer and Tommy Boucher and Pat Claire and Don Faye,” De Caro said. “We’ve had some real good guys.”

George Lessard, a senior second baseman, had a productive 2011 season, hitting .310 with two home runs and 19 runs batted in. Nick Bieber, a senior catcher, is another varsity veteran.

Among the new additions are first baseman James Finora, second baseman Anthony Williams, outfielder/pitcher Brian Pelan, pitcher/third baseman Chris Dwyer, outfielder Kiernan Nish and outfielder Dylan Goeguen.

Question marks abound. Who will play catcher? Who will play first base? Who will play in the outfield?

“We’re waiting to see who’s going to play where, who’s going to hit well against the pitching that we’re going to see,” De Caro said. “If we can avoid the injuries — we’re a small team — and if we can avoid nicks and bruises, we’re going to do fine this year.”

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