SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS B TOURNAMENT | MARINERS 5, TUCKERS 1
After throwing a strikeout for the last out of the game, Wyatt Schmidt found himself at the bottom of a white and maroon pile of humanity that formed in front of the pitcher’s mound. The Southampton pitcher said he was having trouble breathing, but he undoubtedly enjoyed every moment of it.
“My catcher [Alex Soyars] just picked me up and threw me to the ground,” the exuberant Schmidt said. “You know, that’s the best feeling I ever had, to be honest.”
Mattituck’s baseball players, meanwhile, were dealing with much different emotions as they watched the Southampton celebration and saw their season come to an end.
A combination of two-hit pitching by Schmidt and five errors by Mattituck proved to be too much for the Tuckers to overcome on Wednesday. Soyars drove in three runs and Eddie McLaughlin homered for top-seeded Southampton, which picked up its third Suffolk County championship in five years with a 5-1 defeat of the visiting Tuckers in the Class B double-elimination tournament.
The majority of No. 3 Mattituck’s self-inflicted damage came in the second inning when it committed three errors which, along with a two-run, ground-rule double by Soyars and three walks, led to three unearned runs and a 3-1 Southampton lead. Southampton (19-2) drew six walks on a day when not much went Mattituck’s way. Southampton won all four games it played against Mattituck this year.
“I always thought we were as good as them,” Mattituck first baseman Ian Nish said, “and losing to them just makes it that much harder because we could have beat them, and in the end it just didn’t work out for us.”
McLaughlin socked a solo homer with two out in the fifth to make the score 4-1 in the game, which had been postponed twice because of inclement weather.
Another insurance run was provided for the Mariners in the sixth when Soyars singled through the infield, bringing home Henry Egan, who had led off with a flare to right field.
Mattituck’s sole run was unearned in the second. Nish started the inning by shooting a stand-up double to center field. Two outs later he was brought home when Brian Pelan reached base on Southampton’s only error of the day.
The only other hit Schmidt allowed was also a double, by Chris Dwyer in the third. Schmidt had two walks and six strikeouts.
It was mistakes that might have irked the Tuckers the most. Two of the errors in the second came on popups that weren’t caught. One of them — a foul ball by Soyars — fell, untouched, just outside the first baseline. That was before Soyars delivered his two-run hit.
“We just gave it to them,” said Dwyer, the second baseman.
Mattituck coach Steve DeCaro was clearly not happy with what he saw that inning, which he considered the decisive point of the game.
“It was that inning when we made three errors, dropped two infield pop flies, things we practice almost every day, and we walked three guys,” he said. “That was it.”
Schmidt said the double postponements that ultimately pushed the game back four days didn’t bother him. He said he was prepared to take the ball.
“I was ready to go and, you know, put my best out there,” the senior right-hander said. “I pitched alright. This wasn’t my best game of the year. I had trouble with my curveball and my changeup throughout the game, but I powered through.”
Southampton coach Ike Birdsall was talking to reporters after the game when some of his players snuck up behind him and heaved ice from a bucket at his back. He took it in good humor, with the knowledge that the Mariners will play in a Long Island final against Wheatley on Monday at Dowling Sports Complex.
“It’s the biggest thrill,” said Birdsall.
A win over Southold/Greenport in 2009 gave Southampton its first county championship in 31 years. Birdsall coached that team as well the one that repeated as a county champion in 2010. Asked how this county title compared to the first two he won, the coach replied: “They’re all special and they’re all great. Each team has different players, so there are different emotions that go along with it, but to call yourself a champion, I’d love to do it every year.”
The Tuckers, meanwhile, finished the season with a 15-9 record and perhaps a sense of unfinished business.
Dwyer dismissed the notion that there may be some consolation in that the Tuckers lost to a team that had itself lost only twice this year. “Ah, disappointing pretty much,” he said, “because we could easily be in their position right now, and we’re not.”
Mattituck bids farewell to only three seniors: Ryan Finger, Dylan Hahn and John Schultz. Its entire starting infield of Nish, Dwyer, shortstop Marcos Perivolaris and third baseman Will Gildersleeve are sophomores. The future looks bright.
In the wake of a painful defeat, though, DeCaro wasn’t in a reflective mood. Queried about his thoughts on the season, the coach responded, “A bad time to ask because we’re very disappointed right now.”