Further evidence of a long history of bad blood — not to mention real blood on Brady Mahon’s left leg — between the Mattituck and Southampton high school baseball teams was seen Wednesday.
Of course, the sort of trash talking that has become common when these teams meet was heard, but tensions reached a boiling point in the bottom of the fourth inning at Southampton High School.
Southampton’s Alex Petty was the baserunner on first base when teammate Thomas Gabriele bounced a grounder to shortstop Connor Fox. Fox fired the ball to Mahon, covering second base. Mahon then threw late to first base, but not before the sliding Petty took him out on the play. A photograph shows Petty sliding with the bottom of his left cleat planted into Mahon’s left leg below the knee.
A brief fracas ensued during which Mahon shoved Petty before order was quickly restored. Runner interference was called on the play, so Gabriele was called out at first base, ending the inning. No players were ejected. Before the fifth inning began, though, two vocal spectators were ejected by the home-plate umpire.
After the Suffolk County League VIII game, in which Tyler C. Olsen pitched a two-hit shutout for a 7-0 Mattituck win, Mahon showed a reporter the marks left on his leg. “He went spikes up,” Mahon said. “I stepped back to avoid him and go away from the bag and he didn’t really go to the bag; he went at me, slid late, so he got my leg.”
These two teams, both products of successful programs, have ways of getting under each other’s skin. In the first game of the series the day before, Mattituck’s Johnny Lisowy crashed into Southampton catcher Anthony De La Santos on a play at home plate. Lisowy was called out for not attempting to slide.
A good deal of chattering was heard in that game and it carried over to Wednesday.
Asked if he feels the tension when the teams play each other, Olsen answered: “Yeah, of course. I mean, we’re still chirping right now and the game’s over, but there’s always been that tension and, you know, it’s a battle every time we play them.”
Southampton coach Scott Johnson turned down an interview request after the game.
Speaking of the hard times the Tuckers and Mariners give each other, Olsen said: “It’s just something that happens. You just got to keep playing.”
Olsen (4-0) brought Mattituck (9-1, 8-0) its seventh complete game in eight league games, and it was a gem. The senior righthander didn’t allow a hit until Sam Schneider led off the fourth by knocking a single. The only other hit Olsen allowed came when Andrew Smith led off in the fifth by turning on a pitch for a double.
“As soon as I got out there I felt great,” Olsen said. “My arm was feeling good. I was mixing up the pitches well, trying to keep them off-balance. Especially in a small park like this, you got to keep them off-balance, keep them guessing all the time.”
Olsen, hurling fastballs and sliders, walked one and struck out three. Aside from the number of hits allowed, the most impressive of Olsen’s numbers might have been his pitch count: 69.
“He gives us a great effort all the time,” Mattituck coach Gene Rochler said. “He throws strikes. He makes them hit the ball. We have a good defense. We made the plays behind him. This is a typical game for Tyler Olsen.”
It was also a dose of revenge for Olsen, who lasted only three innings in a game in Southampton last year, a 3-0 Mattituck loss.
“Last year I didn’t like it because it really rattled me a little bit,” Olsen said of the back-and-forth commentary between the sides, “but this year I kind of used it as energy, you know, just shut them up while they’re talking.”
In the major leagues, complete games are a dying breed. Mattituck is bringing them back in fashion. Bryce Grathwohl pitched a three-hitter in the first game of the series, a 6-1 Mattituck win.
Asked what he attributes the complete games to, Olsen said: “Great defense. I mean, we have one of the best defenses out there, I think. It’s really comforting when you’re on the mound and you know that everybody out there can make the play for you at any time.”
For offense, Lisowy provided 3-for-5 hitting, scoring twice and knocking in a run. Designated hitter Josh Starzee had a pair of hits and leadoff batter Tyler F. Olsen (no relation to the pitcher) walked four times and scored twice in a game that took only 1 hour, 42 minutes to complete.
“We’re rolling right now,” Tyler C. Olsen said. “We’re going to keep it like that.”
Photo caption: Mattituck second baseman Brady Mahon went airborne after Southampton’s Alex Petty slid into him with his left cleat up, prompting a brief fracas in the fourth inning. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)