Baseball: Mattituck wins its first state title

The Mattituck baseball team celebrates its 4-1 win over Livonia in the Class B state finals Saturday afternoon. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)
The Mattituck baseball team celebrates its 4-1 win over Livonia in the Class B state finals Saturday afternoon. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

The Mattituck High School baseball team is first in a lot of things, not to mention the hearts of its fans. The Tuckers were first in League VIII as well as first among teams in its class in Suffolk County, Long Island and the Southeast Region. Now they can add another first — an historic one at that — to their impressive season résumé.

The Tuckers are bringing the New York State Class B championship plaque home with them.

For the first time in their history, the Tuckers, who have been playing baseball since the 1930s, according to coach Steve DeCaro, are state champions. In a rather ho-hum state final, they did something that was anything but ho-hum, defeating Livonia, 4-1, at SUNY/Broome Community College’s Hornet Field in Binghamton on Saturday.

Ian Nish fielded a routine bouncing ball, trotted to the first-base bag, recorded the final out and the deed was done. The Tuckers were on top of the state, capping a brilliant 27-1 season. They heaved their gloves high in the air before joining together in one big pileup of jubilation.

Before the Tuckers lined up along the third-base line to receive their championship medals, their second baseman, Jon Dwyer, demonstrated his joy in the form of an acrobatic backflip.

Then the impressive championship plaque was handed to DeCaro. The players posed for the first of many photos as smiling fans walked onto the field to snap away.

After a short while, DeCaro announced, “Good, we’re done. Let’s go!”

To that, the players roared applause, but they weren’t done. They gathered together again and, in unison, shouted, “Go blue!”

Even then they weren’t done. They weren’t close to being done.

They marched down toward the scoreboard in right-center field for more photos. Among them were photos that featured Optimus, a hockey player figurine that the team adopted as its good-luck charm for much of the season. (Later, DeCaro said that Optimus will be retired and given a place in his physics classroom, overlooking the Mattituck High School baseball field.)

DeCaro was later surprised by a couple of his players who dumped a bucket full of ice over him.

And then there were more photos and interviews. It seemed as if the Tuckers didn’t want to leave, and who could blame them? A lot of work went into this championship. This was their year to do it, they had said since the frigid first days of practice when piles of snow were still on the ground. The team has six seniors and nine players who had experience as starters from the 2014 team that reached the regional final. Anything short of a state title would have been a disappointment, they had said.

They weren’t disappointed.

For two of the Tuckers, Joe Tardif and Dan Fedun, it is their second state championship of the school year. Both had played for Mattituck’s state champion boys soccer team last fall. Earlier in the day, before Mattituck’s 7-2 semifinal win over Ogdensburg Free Academy, Fedun was presented with a sportsmanship award.

To Livonia’s credit, it had held a mighty Mattituck offense to five hits, an achievement in itself, but two of those hits by Ian Nish and Tardif were awfully important.

After Mattituck’s first two batters in the third inning made out, Marcos Perivolaris reached base on a fielding error, Chris Dwyer walked, and Nish drove a double over the left fielder, Derek Demartinis, for a 2-0 lead.

One sensed that the Mattituck run-scoring machine was revving up. Two more runs followed in the fourth. After Will Gildersleeve singled and Mike Onufrak walked, Tardif delivered a bloop single that fell in a narrow sliver of space between second baseman John Smith and right fielder Seb Bosch. That made it 4-0 Mattituck.

Those were all the runs the Tuckers scored and all they needed, thanks in part to Perivolaris’ pitching. The senior right-hander was the winning pitcher in the county and Long Island title-winning games, and now this state final. Perivolaris (10-0) gave up eight hits and one walk over six and one-third innings. He did not register a strikeout.

The only run Perivolaris allowed came in the seventh. Bosch started things with a single and then, one out later, Josh Henderson doubled him home.

Chris Dwyer picked up the save, retiring both batters he faced.

Livonia ended with a 25-2 record.

The Tuckers ended up with a lot more, even more than medals and a plaque. Their ambitious mission accomplished, they can bask in the glory of the greatest season in team history and memories that will last a lifetime.

Tardif said he found himself in the unusual position of having been moved to tears after a triumph. It was understandable. They were tears of joy.

The state Class B championship plaque has a new home. It might be time for a new sign in Mattituck: Welcome to the Home of the 2015 New York State Class B Baseball Champions.

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