Dylan Clausen, Luke Hansen and Pat McFarland.
It’s quite a starting pitching rotation, the best Mike Carver has seen in his 16 years as coach of the Southold High School baseball team.
“We’ve had some good pitchers in the past, but we’ve never had three dominant ones where any day you’re happy to have them on the mound,” said Carver.
That pitching firepower gives Southold (18-5) instant credibility for another deep run into the postseason after reaching the New York State Class C semifinals in 2015 and the Long Island final last year (a 3-0 loss to East Rockaway in which the First Settlers managed only one hit).
“The boys and I have a mission: to be playing the second week in June, upstate,” Carver said, referring to the state final four in Binghamton June 9 and 10. “That’s our goal.”
It’s an imposing pitching trio. McFarland, a righthander, was the Suffolk County League VIII Pitcher of the Year in 2016, going 8-0 with a 1.77 earned-run average. Clausen and Hansen are both lefties. Like fellow senior McFarland, Clausen was an all-county choice, putting up a 6-2 record with a 0.96 ERA. Hansen, a junior, went 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA.
“I have to be enthusiastic considering the pitching that I have,” said Carver (198-125), who enters his 16th season two wins shy of a milestone. “So far they have lived up to the expectations.”
Those pitchers will be delivering to strong-armed senior catcher Shane Zimmer. “He’s one of the best catchers that I’ve had,” Carver said. “Anybody who gets on base, they’re going to think twice about stealing.”
Zimmer was all-league, as was senior outfielder Doug Fiedler, who led team with three home runs. Fiedler also hit over .300, as did Clausen and McFarland.
The starting nine will also include third baseman/rightfielder/relief pitcher Adam Baldwin, second baseman Joe Hayes and outfielders Joe Saporita and Matt Cardi and infielder/pitcher Bill Burns. Josh Clasing may start at first base depending on who is pitching.
Sean Conway, Stephen Hocker and Anthony Klavas bring depth to the outfield.
“While we lost Noah Mina and Greg Gehring, the kids who are seniors and juniors this year have a lot more experience,” Carver said. “I think every one of these starters went upstate with us two years ago, so they know what it feels like to be there and they all want to get back there.”
One era has passed and a new one has begun for Mattituck (19-4).
“That’s exactly what it is,” said coach Steve DeCaro, whose career record is 207-121-1.
After four years of pitching and patrolling centerfield for Mattituck, Joe Tardif, the 2015 state Class B player of the year, is now playing for SUNY/Cortland. The Tuckers are left with a team that looks drastically different than the one that claimed a state championship two years ago.
“A bunch of guys who had won a state championship have graduated, so now it’s the younger guys’ turn,” said DeCaro.
A pair of all-league seniors are ushering in this new era — shortstop Matt Heffernan (.325, 15 runs batted in) and pitcher Brendan Kent (4-0, 1.40 ERA).
Kent, who had 41 strikeouts in 40 innings, is the No. 1 pitcher in the rotation. Another righthander, sophomore Bryce Grathwohl, will probably man the second slot while the third starter remains to be determined. Grathwohl, who also plays third base, hit .406 last season.
Sophomore outfielder Jon Lisowy and senior designated hitter James McDonald were starters last year. Three other seniors offer varsity experience: second baseman Ryan McCaffery and pitcher/outfielders Tyler Williams and Kevin Mahon.
New to the team are corner infielder Sam Dickerson, catcher Ryan Mahon (Kevin’s brother), second baseman Dave Conroy and outfielders Jason Scalia and Dom Skrezec.
“We’re pretty strong with pitching,” DeCaro said. “We’re pretty strong up the middle with Matt Heffernan and Ryan McCaffery. … Probably our biggest concern is our outfield because no matter what, no matter who’s coming along, we’re replacing Joe Tardif, who was not one outfielder, he was like two outfielders.”
Mattituck has set a high standard for itself, coming in first place the last three years.
“I think we can be good,” DeCaro said. “It’s going to be [how] our pitching’s going to take us. We got young guys, but they’re good baseball players who know baseball.”
It’s all going to come down to fundamentals for Greenport (3-17). Throwing strikes and fielding balls works wonders. The Porters didn’t do enough of that last season and thus the losing record.
“Three and 17 is not entirely representative of how we played,” coach Mike Sage said. “We were in a lot of games late and lost them late because of mental errors.”
Sage said he believes the Porters are “much better prepared” this year. They have three all-league players to lead the way in senior pitcher/centerfielder Jake Skrezec (.370), senior outfielder Keegan Syron (11 RBIs) and junior shortstop/pitcher Jordan Fonseca (.281).
Also offering varsity backgrounds are: senior outfielder Remi Droskoski, senior utility player Tashan Lawrence, junior catcher/pitcher Matt Tuthill, junior third baseman Sean Sepenoski, sophomore pitcher/utility player Tommy Tsaveres, sophomore corner infielder Christian Romero and senior pitcher/first baseman Jack Webster.
Newcomers to the team are second baseman Jaxan Swann, corner infielder/outfielder Jonathan Rodriguez, utility player Tony Coria and outfielder/infielder Ahkee Anderson.
Skrezec is the No. 1 pitcher on a starting staff with Fonseca and Webster. Tsaveres is projected as a spot starter.
“They’re all buddies,” Sage said. “They all get along very well. They’re fun, but when it’s time to get down to business, they show the ability to get down to business. There’s a lot of talent there and it’s untapped talent in some places.”
Photo caption: Pat McFarland, the League VIII Pitcher of the Year in 2016, is part of Southold’s imposing starting pitching staff. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)