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Baseball: Southold, Suffolk’s last unbeaten team, loves life at 15-0

Southold baseball player Joe Hayes 050316

Fifteen wins, no losses.

Who wouldn’t like a record like that? It’s a powerful statement coming from Southold, the only undefeated high school baseball team in Suffolk County.

With five games remaining in the regular season, Southold is approaching a rarity: an unbeaten record heading into the playoffs.

“It’s obviously a great feeling,” coach Mike Carver said in a phone interview Tuesday night following the team’s indoor practice. “It makes you feel good about your team. I knew the team was a solid team, but to be 15 and 0 really says something. You have to be good to win that many games.”

Southold, which reached the New York State Class C semifinals last year for the first time, has the pitching, with a starting staff of Pat McFarland (5-0), Dylan Clausen (4-0) and Greg Gehring.

“Early in the season, our pitching compensated for the lack of runs we were getting in some of those games,” Carver said. “That’s the name of the game. Good pitching beats good hitting. It really does.”

The fielding has been sharp and the offense has picked up after a slow introduction to the season with Gehring, Clausen, McFarland and Noah Mina leading the way.

One of the biggest personnel moves Carver has made this season was inserting Clausen and Mina in center field, depending on who is pitching, to help shore up the outfield. “That was a major change and a very dramatic change,” Carver said. “We saw a difference right away.”

Another change involved his two catchers, Greg Gehring and Shane Zimmer. Gehring, a senior, volunteered to play elsewhere and has been positioned at first base and third base when not pitching.

“That meant a lot to me and really said a lot about Greg,” Carver said. “He said, ‘Coach, put me where you got to put me to make the team better.’ ”

Those tweaks made a difference as the team’s hitting picked up.

“The biggest difference between now and the beginning of the season is we’re hitting the ball more,” Carver said. “We’re scoring runs.”

The First Settlers have won in all sorts of ways. They have triumphed in four one-run games.

Southold has clinched a playoff berth and the No. 1 seed in Suffolk Class C. The First Settlers are bidding for what would be their fifth league title in 14 years under Carver.

Should Southold win its remaining games against Bishop McGann-Mercy, Mattituck, Babylon, Center Moriches and Southampton, it would be 20-0, leaving Carver with 200 career wins on the nose.

But would entering the playoffs without a loss make him uncomfortable?

Not at all.

“I would love to be 20 and 0 next week,” he said. “If we stay undefeated, great; if not, we’re in great shape.”

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Photo caption: Southold second baseman Joe Hayes collecting a ground ball in a game against Greenport. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)