A total surprise? Maybe not.
The Southold High School baseball team leapt to the top of the Suffolk County League VIII standings by sweeping its first three games of the season, and excellent pitching had a lot to do with it. Just look at the scores of the First Settlers’ wins over Greenport: 10-1, 10-0 and 6-1.
In those three games, Southold allowed only two runs, one walk and committed no errors. It was that sort of a recipe that took the team to the New York State Class C semifinals last year.
Pat McFarland (12 strikeouts, one walk) and Dylan Clausen (13 strikeouts, no walks) pitched a four-hitter and a three-hitter, respectively, in complete-game performances in the first two games. Luke Hansen wrapped up the series Thursday, striking out eight in a four-hitter without conceding a base on balls over six innings.
“We knew we had pitching,” coach Mike Carver said. “I knew all along that we’d have three number ones.”
And those three will be around for a while. McFarland and Clausen are both juniors. Hansen is a sophomore.
“They’re tough,” Carver said. “Those three arms are really tough. … When you have the three arms that we have, it’s kind of unheard of in a small school.”
McFarland said, “I feel like we have three arms that can take us far into the season.”
Beyond those three starting pitchers, Southold can also turn to Greg Gehring, Adam Baldwin and Doug Fiedler for pitching help.
Clausen, who raised his velocity “substantially,” according to Carver, is a lefthander, as are Hansen and Fielder.
Allowing only one walk over three games is a major plus.
“That’s very big for us,” McFarland said. “Our defense has been very good, so we don’t want to give any free bases to other teams.”
The offense has been coming through, too. In the first game, Clausen went 2 for 3 with two runs batted in. In the second game, McFarland went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and Gehring went 2 for 3, driving in one run and scoring two. Clausen brought the big bat on Thursday, hammering a three-run homer.
A nice surprise has been the play of freshman Joe Hayes, who mans second base when McFarland pitches and Noah Mina moves to McFarland’s shortstop position. Hayes has made five putouts and picked up his first varsity hit on Thursday.
Southold will start a three-game series against Pierson/Bridgehampton on Monday.
Ten league wins would return the First Settlers to the playoffs.
“Right now we got three down,” Carver said. “We need seven more. We like the way things are going right now.”
What’s not to like?
Photo caption: Pat McFarland leads a Southold pitching staff that allowed only two runs and one walk through its first three games. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)