Bryce Grathwohl isn’t perfect, but he comes close from time to time.
Early this high school baseball season, the Mattituck senior was one out away from pitching a perfect game against Pierson/Bridgehampton/Shelter Island. Then he hung a one-strike curveball to Cooper Schiavoni. “He just waited on it and drove the ball the other way and it was a legit single,” recalled Grathwohl, who has moved on.
Boy has he moved on.
Grathwohl has been having a tremendous season, whether it be on the pitcher’s mound, in the infield at shortstop or third base, or in the batter’s box.
“He’s been great all year long,” said coach Gene Rochler, who called Grathwohl a candidate for the Suffolk County League VIII MVP award. “I mean, he’s really been unbelievable. He contributes not only with the pitching, but his fielding has been unbelievable and his batting has been superb.
“He’s done everything that we’ve asked of him. He brings a great level of effort to every game, whether he’s pitching or not, and he’s doing exactly what a senior should do — he’s leading by example.”
In Mattituck’s first Senior Day (the baseball version) in at least 17 years Wednesday, Grathwohl was a perfect pitcher — for the first three innings.
In his final home regular-season game, Grathwohl faced nine Smithtown Christian batters in succession, and struck them all out. Three of those strikeouts were achieved on three pitches and three came with batters looking at called third strikes. A pitcher really can’t do much better than that.
Then the pitching duties were handed over, in order, to Chris Nicholson, Nate Demchak and Johnny Lisowy as Mattituck cruised to a 15-0 blowout. They held Smithtown Christian to three hits, two by Cade Jansson.
Grathwohl’s final pitching line: three innings, no hits, no runs, no walks, nine strikeouts. As if that wasn’t enough, he threw 30 of his 35 pitches for strikes.
Grathwohl (6-1) said it was predetermined that he wouldn’t pitch longer than that in order to save his arm for the playoffs, which start next week. Rochler expects the Tuckers to host Babylon in their first game in the Suffolk Class B double-elimination tournament on Tuesday. Mattituck (14-5, 13-4), winner of four of its last five games, will close out the regular season Friday at Smithtown Christian (2-15, 2-15), which has lost 14 straight.
“I feel like I’ve been pitching pretty good, pounding the strike zone,” Grathwohl said. “Compared to every other year, I just feel more confident on the mound this year as a senior.”
Grathwohl’s batting average took a slight dip from .448 to .441 (he hit .452 in three games apiece against league champion Center Moriches and Babylon) with his 0-for-1, but he did drive in his 13th run of the season on a sacrifice fly for the game’s first run.
“Bryce has just been dominating for us this year, whether it be in the field, short or third, or on the mound … and he’s just mashing the ball on offense,” said senior catcher Ryan Mahon, who knocked in three runs from a double, a sac fly and a single.
Senior Day was judged a success all the way around. Mattituck churned out 14 hits (and capitalized on nine errors). Then, after the game — completed in a tidy 1 hour, 38 minutes — the team’s seven seniors were announced. They carried flowers to their parents and received mini bats as something to remember the day before enjoying some food and mingling on a rare splendid weather day.
“We had a great time today,” said Mahon, whose younger brother, Brady, went 2-for-2 with a double, a walk, three runs scored and an RBI.
Lisowy had two hits, two RBIs, scored three times and stole a base. Connor Fox also had a pair of hits, one being an RBI double.
It has been quite a regular season for Mattituck, its five losses coming by a combined six runs. “We played hard against every team we played,” Ryan Mahon said. “Even if we lost, we gave them a battle.”
“The team did shock me this year,” he continued. “I mean, we were not predicted to be this good a team.”
As for Grathwohl’s play, that can hardly be surprising. An All-County player last year, he will play next season for NCAA Division III Vassar College.
“It’s been a hell of a ride,” he said. “The four years have been a blast. All the kids I’ve played with, all the kids I’ve played against, and [former Mattituck coach Steve] DeCaro and Coach Roch coaching me has been an experience I’ll never forget.”
Photo caption: Bryce Grathwohl (6-1) struck out all nine batters he faced in his abbreviated Senior Day start for Mattituck. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)