Heading into the New York State Class B semifinal in Binghamton, the Mattituck baseball team knew it was in for a long evening at the plate against standout Livonia High School pitcher Reid VanScoter.
What the Tuckers would learn Friday is that the rest of the Livonia squad is pretty darn good, too.
The Bulldogs pounded out 15 hits and VanScoter kept the Mattituck bats quiet in a 7-0 win at Binghamton University Friday. The loss brings to a close an impressive season for the Tuckers (19-7), who returned to the state final four for the second time in three years.
“It was an awesome season,” said Mattituck coach Steve DeCaro. “Sadly it ends on a loss, but only one team, the state champion, gets to end on a win.”
Livonia (22-2) will aim to be that team when it returns to the field at 4 p.m. Saturday at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton. The Bulldogs will face Albany Academy, which won its semifinal on a walkoff home run in extra innings earlier Friday.
Livonia will be doing so without the pitching of VanScoter, whose final outing as a high school hurler was at times shaky but produced the usual winning result. The senior, who coincidentally is committed to pitch on the same mound as a Binghamton Bearcat next season, completed the shutout with 10 strikeouts and just four hits given up. The 5-foot-11 left-hander took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, but it was broken up by back-to-back, two-out singles from Ryan McCaffrey and Matt Heffernan.
Despite the lack of hitting, Mattituck certainly had its chances thanks to some control issues from VanScoter. The Tuckers put runners in scoring position in four of the game’s first five innings, but failed to come up with the hit to break through. The Tuckers’ biggest opportunity came in the top of the second inning when a walk and two hit batsmen loaded the bases with one out, but VanScoter worked his way out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts.
“We definitely had our opportunities,” DeCaro said. “We just couldn’t do it.”
On paper, the semifinal game might have appeared to be set up for a pitcher’s duel with VanScoter, who threw a no-hitter with 21 strikeouts in his team’s sectional championship game two weeks ago, squaring off against Mattituck’s Brendan Kent, who had notched a pair of postseason no-hitters himself.
But Kent, despite escaping several jams and recording six strikeouts, was hit early and often by the Bulldogs Friday.
Livonia set up and scored the game’s first run with two outs in the bottom of the second inning after ninth-place hitter Matt Hyde tripled and scored on an RBI single by leadoff man John Smith, who finished the game with three hits. Livonia added two more runs the following inning and broke the game open with a four-run sixth.
“We knew Reid was going to hold us down and it would be low-scoring, at least on our side,” DeCaro said. “But they came out and showed us their bats, too.”
Mattituck last faced Livonia in the 2015 New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B Final, a game the Tuckers would win 4-1. It remains the only state baseball championship in Southold Town history for at least one more season.