The Southold High School baseball team’s season came to a heartbreaking finish Saturday with a 2-1 loss to defending state champion North Salem as it came up on the short end of a pitching duel in a Southeast Region Class C final at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.
The First Settlers finished the year with a 23-2 record, and their third consecutive Suffolk County championship.
Both lefthanded starters tossed complete games. Southold pitcher Luke Hansen, who was throwing 80 mph curveballs and 85 mph fastballs in the early innings, held North Salem to seven hits and racked up 10 strikeouts. But North Salem’s lefty Connor Mahoney held Southold to just six hits, and he tallied 12 strikeouts with similar velocity on his pitches, often catching the outside corner of the plate for called third strikes.
For all of Hansen’s impressive pitching, it was a fielding error he made that turned out to be the difference. With a runner on first base and two outs in the top of the seventh inning, North Salem leadoff man Adam Concadoro hit a weak grounder down the third-base line. Hansen pounced on it, but overthrew first base. The throwing error allowed Nate Carminucci to score all the way from first, snapping a 1-1 tie, while Concadoro ended up on third.
“It’s a tough one to lose,” Southold coach Mike Carver said afterward. “A botched call earlier in the game took away a run that we should have scored. But what are you going to do? We had our chances, we had some runners in scoring position. They played a great game. Hats off. Unfortunately, we didn’t score when we had the chance.”
The “botched” call he referred to took place with Southold batting with two outs in the third. With Pat McFarland on third base, Shane Zimmer hit a grounder that shortstop Anthony D’Innocenzo fielded and threw high to first. But first baseman Phil Foglia made a leaping catch and was able to just get his foot down on the bag in time for the umpire to call the final out.
Carver believes the runner was safe.
North Salem scored the game’s first run in the third. Concadora hit a one-out double to right-center. He was driven in later in the inning when Mahoney hit a single past third base that scored Concadora on a close call at home.
Southold tied the score in the fourth when Dylan Clausen launched a leadoff triple to right-centerfield and was driven in two batters later by Doug Fiedler, who laced an opposite-field single to left-center.
Carver said he expected it to be a pitchers duel, adding, “I really thought whoever wins this one is going to be state champs.”
He said Hansen’s pitching was getting stronger as the game went on. “He has a tendency to do that,” the coach said.