Like all Mattituck High School sports squads, its baseball team goes by the nickname Tuckers.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Escape Artists might have been a better way to describe the team in its 11-1 victory over host Port Jefferson.
Leading the charge was righthander Tyler C. Olsen, who showed his resiliency, pitching in and out of trouble in a complete game. He scattered 10 hits and stranded nine runners.
“It tells you he’s got a lot of resolve,” coach Gene Rochler said. “He takes a deep breath. I always say to him, ‘Go on to the next batter, put the last batter behind you.’ He’s able to do that. That’s something that’s not only going to bode well for him, not only in baseball, but in life itself basically. That’s what life is about, putting it behind you and moving on.”
It certainly boded well for Olsen and the Escape Artists, err, the Tuckers (3-1, 2-0) in their Suffolk County League VII game against the Royals (1-3, 0-2).
The hosts had players on base in every inning and put the leadoff man aboard five times. Yet, Mattituck found a way to get out virtually unscathed.
“It tells us that we’re strong as a team and we’re resilient when we do have runners on,” said centerfielder Chris Nicholson, who clobbered a double, a bases-clearing three-run triple and scored three runs. “We could keep our cool, even under pressure.”
Let us count the many ways, the Tuckers accomplished that:
In the first inning, Olsen hit leadoff batter Anthony D’Elia with a pitch. He stole second base and went to third on Luke Filippi’s single to left, but Filippi was picked off. Peyton Gines then doubled home a run when rightfielder Johnny Lisowy slipped trying to catch the ball. However, a nice relay from Lisowy to shortstop Connor Fox to third baseman Bryce Grathwohl got Gines trying to stretch his hit into a triple.
“The pickoffs and the throwing the guy out at third base in a big situation, all those things we practice and it’s nice to see them come to fruition in a game,” Rochler said.
With a man on in the second inning, Gabe Zoda hit a blooper that fell just in front of leftfielder Emmet Ryan for an apparent single. But Ryan alertly threw to second to get the force and the second out of the inning. “Everyone was yelling at me, ‘Heads up, get the runner out at second,’ ” Ryan said.
“That was amazing,” Nicholson said. “Olsen was lights out. He just kept getting out of situations, especially with the bases loaded.”
That happened in the third with Mattituck clinging to a 3-1 lead. After the Royals loaded the bases with one out, Olsen struck out Jordan Suarez and induced Charlie Rolfe to ground out to third to end the inning.
“A leadoff hit and stuff like that really wakes you up in an inning,” Olsen said. “Really just woke me up. Every time I just hit my spots and they were just hitting it to my fielders, and they were making the plays and we got out of it.”
Port Jefferson put the leadoff man on in the final four innings but had nothing to show for it.
James Giruenfelder doubled to start the fourth. D’Elia singled in the fifth but ended the frame as he was thrown out trying to steal on a strikeout, throw ’em out double play.
The Royals had two runners on in the sixth — Suarez led off with a single — but again, no dice.
Pinch hitter Josh Tesser singled to start the seventh but was stranded as Olsen recorded two of his six strikeouts.
“I’m not really a strikeout pitcher,” Olsen said. “So, it comes in really nice when my team picks me up on ground balls and fly balls and the tough plays that not a lot of other people make. There’s a lot of trust between me and my fielders and it’s great.”
Ryan, who had three RBIs, singled in the Tuckers’ first run in the second inning, followed by Brady Mahon’s run-scoring single. He added an RBI double to extend the lead to 3-1. The Tuckers broke open the game with three runs in fifth and five in the sixth.
“We’re coming into our own now,” Ryan said. “It’s a good start to the season.”
Added Olsen: “We have a couple of big series coming up. It’s good that we hit, and I pitched well today. It’s a boost of confidence for everybody and it’s going to pay off in the long run.”
Photo caption: Bill Hickox, left, congratulates Tyler C. Olsen on pitching a complete game for Mattituck. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)