Baseball: Tuckers prevail in pitching duel for county title

The Mattituck Tuckers meet on the infield grass for a postgame celebration after the team sealed its fourth county championship in 12 years. (Credit: Garret Meade)
The Mattituck Tuckers meet on the infield grass for a postgame celebration after the team sealed its fourth county championship in 12 years. (Credit: Garret Meade)


The pressure was on. That is just the way Marcos Perivolaris likes it.

Perivolaris has a reputation for being a baseball player who thrives under pressure. What is his secret?

“I just don’t think about it,” he said.

Pressure was staring Perivolaris in the face on Friday, and he stood up to it. With the Suffolk County Class B championship on the line, Mattituck handed the ball to Perivolaris for the starting pitching assignment in the third and decisive game of its playoff series against Center Moriches.

The first two games of the series were about hitting, but it was the pitchers who took center stage in the game to settle it all at Mattituck High School. Center Moriches’ Daniel Franchi and Mattituck’s Perivolaris, the No. 3 pitchers for both teams, both pitched four-hitters. The big difference, though, was that Perivolaris had one run worth of support; Franchi had none.

Even with the Center Moriches infield playing in, Ian Nish scored on a slow roller hit by Brian Pelan for the game’s only run in the fourth inning. The run stood for a 1-0 victory that brought the top-seeded Tuckers their fourth county title in 12 years.

After Perivolaris (7-0) got the game’s last batter to look at a called third strike, gloves flew high in the air and the junior right-hander was mobbed by jubilant teammates on the infield grass.

“Winning this game was the best baseball experience I ever had,” said Nish.

Friday’s game flew by, whizzing to completion in only 1 hour 23 minutes. By the time the Tuckers (20-3) stepped up to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning, the game was only 59 minutes old.

Part of the reason for that was clean fielding (neither team made an error), not a lot of scoring and plenty of good pitching. (There was no confirmation that Mattituck’s Senior Prom that night had any bearing on the game’s pace). Perivolaris, using mostly sliders and changeups with good movement to keep batters off-balance, did not issue a walk, striking out four. He threw 76 pitches, 53 for strikes.

“I felt good. I just got in a rhythm and I never stopped,” he said. “I just kind of kept my head clear and went about my business.”

Pelan said, “I really hope he enjoyed himself because that was one of the most impressive pitching outings I’ve seen.”

Mattituck coach Steve DeCaro was also impressed. “It was all about Marcos today,” he said. “What a great game he pitched.”

Franchi didn’t do too badly himself. He allowed two walks (both to Nish), striking out five. He also had two of Center Moriches’ hits, one a long double.

“It was his best outing of the year,” Center Moriches coach Dennis Donovan said. “It takes some guts to do what he did today. I couldn’t be any more proud of him.”

One of those walks led to the game’s only run. Nish led off with a walk and his twin brother, James Nish, followed with an infield single that second baseman Patrick Bryant stopped but couldn’t make a play on. After a wild pitch advanced the runners, Cameron Burt got under a 3-2 pitch for a fly ball that Sean Finnigan ran in to catch in shallow right field, keeping Ian Nish at third. Then Pelan came through with the grounder on the slow infield grass to Bryant, who had no play but to first for the out while Ian Nish scored.

The agile Perivolaris, who plays shortstop when he is not pitching, also put his fine fielding skills to good use. He hopped off the mound and pounced on three ground balls for outs.

In addition, Perivolaris was responsible for one of Mattituck’s hits, lining a single over shortstop Stephen Bryant.

Ian Nish said he always has confidence when Perivolaris takes the mound. “He hasn’t lost a game all season and I don’t think he’s going to start now,” said the first baseman.

Speaking of the newly won county title, Pelan said: “It’s unreal, it’s great, but it’s only one step. We’re in this for much bigger goals.”

The next one would be getting past Nassau County champion Wheatley in a Southeast Region semifinal on June 6 at Farmingdale State College.

The Tuckers had won the first game of the county series, rallying for five runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 5-4 victory. Center Moriches (14-8) took the second game, 9-3, on the strength of a seven-run surge in the sixth.

“You couldn’t really ask for more,” Donovan said. He added, “We bring out the best in each other.”

Beyond Perivolaris, Ian Nish said, “I think this team is the best at handling pressure I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” That is just one of the qualities that has helped the Tuckers extend their season.

During the final one of a series of postgame interviews, Perivolaris said: “We deserve this. No doubt we deserve this.”

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