Sam was the man.
The start to a game — and a young high school baseball season that had its rough moments for Sam Dickerson — changed dramatically, turning into a breakout game for the Mattituck pitcher.
Dickerson, who had gone hitless with no RBIs through Mattituck’s first two games this season, was certainly on the mark for the third one. He went 4-for-4, homering and driving in a career-high seven runs in a 14-4 thrashing of visiting Southampton Thursday. As if that wasn’t enough, the senior righthander also picked up his second pitching win in as many decisions.
Not bad for a day’s work.
“That’s crazy,” Mattituck rightfielder Jon Lisowy said of Dickerson’s burst of seven RBIs. “Stellar. A stellar performance.”
Dickerson had gone a combined 0-for-6 in Mattituck’s first two games — a 14-4 win over Hampton Bays and a 10-1 loss to Center Moriches.
“He was struggling a little bit, and I think that early on he was afraid to pull the trigger,” said coach Steve DeCaro.
So Dickerson said he worked off the batting tee and focused on his swing.
“It’s not like he’s just kind of hoping,” DeCaro said. “He’s worked hard, and today was the result.”
Almost as impressive was that Dickerson did what he did under the difficult weather conditions he and the other players had to contend with. With the wind reported to be whipping at 21 mph and the cold (the temperature was listed at 43 degrees, but it felt an awful lot colder), just playing the game was a challenge.
“It was cold today, man,” Lisowy said while walking to the school building for the postgame interviews. “It was bad.”
That weather had an affect on Dickerson the pitcher. In the first inning he gave up a leadoff squib infield single by Elijah Wingfield and an RBI single that Thomas Gabriele (3-for-4, two RBIs, two doubles, stolen base) shot through the left side in addition to hitting Jayden Pepitone with a pitch.
Just like that, Mattituck (2-1, 2-1 Suffolk County League VIII) found itself in a 3-0 hole.
“The cold weather definitely affected me when I was throwing my breaking ball,” Dickerson said. “I just couldn’t snap it off the way I wanted it, but my changeup really came alive and helped me out … The changeup definitely got me out of some jams.”
After that bumpy start, though, Dickerson settled in. He was relieved after five innings and 91 pitches, having allowed four runs, seven hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.
“He had problems with his breaking ball today,” DeCaro said. “That might have been weather-induced, but he did a good job. He threw a little too many pitches for five innings, I think.”
Tyler C. Olsen closed out the game, hurling two scoreless innings.
Dickerson the hitter, meanwhile, was on from the start. He struck a single that trickled through the infield and brought Mattituck its first run in the first inning. Then he led off the third by connecting on a 2-and-0 fastball a little above belt high for a wind-aided homer to left-centerfield. “I just put a good swing on it and let the wind take it,” he said.
That kick-started a seven-run rally that put Mattituck ahead, 9-3. Dickerson capped the rally with a two-run single.
A Dickerson sacrifice fly made it 12-3 in the fourth. Then, to top things off in the sixth, he knocked a two-run single for the game’s final runs.
“He’s our guy,” DeCaro said. “He’s a baseball player. This is what he does.”
Bryce Grathwohl and Lisowy both had a pair of hits and two RBIs.
Jem Sisco went 3-for-3 with a walk for Southampton (1-2, 1-2).
Dickerson’s breakout game just goes to show this is a sport that offers the unexpected.
“It’s baseball,” Dickerson said. “Anything can happen.”
Photo caption: Sam Dickerson drives a belt-high fastball for a home run and one of his career-high seven RBIs for Mattituck in its 14-4 win over Southampton. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)