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Baseball: Momentum flips in an instant as Center Moriches rallies late to defeat Mattituck

This one stung.

Agonizing. That would be the word Mattituck might use to describe its Suffolk County League VII baseball game Monday when what looked to be a sure win slipped through its hands, turning into an excruciating defeat.

Mattituck blew a 7-0 lead and gave away seven runs in one inning — four coming with two outs — as part of a stunning 10-7 loss to visiting Center Moriches. The Tuckers held a 7-3 lead with two outs in the sixth inning before it all came tumbling down.

“Definitely up there for one of the toughest” losses, Mattituck first baseman Bryce Hansen said. “It’s never fun losing, but this one definitely hurts. I definitely thought we had it.”

It sure looked that way.

Much of the damage Mattituck suffered was self-inflicted. The Tuckers issued nine walks and hit two batters — all in the final four innings. “You’re not going to win a game like that,” said Mattituck coach Dan O’Sullivan.

Centerfielder Michael Mowdy, who had two hits and a stolen base, said, “We’ve lost leads before, but this one probably hurts the most.”

Mattituck (3-7, 3-7) had completed the toughest part of its schedule, going 3-5 against the Class A teams in the league — Bayport-Blue Point, Shoreham-Wading River and Elwood/John Glenn. Beginning with Monday’s game, the league competition is against fellow Class B teams the rest of the way for the Tuckers. Mattituck needs five wins from its remaining eight league games — two against Center Moriches and three each against Babylon and Southampton — in order to reach the playoffs, said coach Dan O’Sullivan.

“We’re gonna be in the playoffs,” Mowdy declared confidently.

Mattituck third baseman Garrett Grathwohl catching a pop fly near pitcher Andrew Berman. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Each of Mattituck’s four series so far has had one thing in common: blown leads that led to losses.

O’Sullivan said, “Each series we’ve given a game away and it’s been one inning like we kind of just fall apart and today it was that big seven-run inning.”

The way the game started was a tease for Mattituck, which racked up seven runs itself in the second. Missed opportunities to later tack on to that lead proved critical, though.

Center Moriches (5-5, 5-5) rang up its seven-run inning in the sixth, using a two-out rally to execute the unlikely comeback. With the bases loaded, Riley Morris knocked a two-run double before Gavin DeRosa followed up by taking a 3-and-2 pitch to centerfield for two more runs, tying the score at 7-7. Before the inning ended, Jack Rupe’s infield single and an error on the play allowed two more runs to plate.

The first of those seven runs came in on Max Rayburn’s sacrifice fly.

Just like that, Mattituck was down, 9-7.

“We had all the momentum in the world going and then, just like that, they had it all,” Hansen said. “It’s crazy how fast it can change.”

Center Moriches added another run in the seventh. Joseph Hiller reached base on an infield single and courtesy runner Luke Rebore-Costanzo, taking Hiller’s place on the basepath, later scored on an error.

All Mattituck’s scoring came in the second, which featured a Ryan Janis sacrifice fly, a Brady Mahon two-run double and a two-run single by Hansen. “We were rolling,” said Mowdy.

Said Hansen: “We were hitting the ball all over the place, playing good defense, pitching well. We definitely showed what we can do. We just got to do it the whole game.”

Center Moriches inched closer in the fourth when Morris and DeRosa, who both opened the inning with walks, scored on a passed ball and a double play, respectively.

“That’s us,” O’Sullivan said. “And that’s what’s kind of frustrating with this team this year is, like we said, once every series. I mean, we are a good team and we know we’re a good team, but for whatever reason, we just have that one inning in these losses that are just killing us.”

So, what was Mattituck’s best approach following the heartbreaking loss?

“Forget about it,” Mowdy said. “There’s really no other thing we can do. It happened. We can’t change it. So, just forget it and move on to tomorrow.”