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Baseball: 3 Center Moriches pitchers share no-hitter in finals sweep of Tuckers

Center Moriches said no-no-no to Mattituck and yes-yes-yes to a Suffolk County Class B baseball championship.

Riley Morris and two relievers shared a no-hitter Tuesday when second-seeded Center Moriches swept the Suffolk County Class B finals with a 2-1 Game 2 victory at Mattituck High School.

After reliever Leyton Pulsipher retired the side in order, culminating with a strikeout in the bottom of the seventh inning, Center Moriches caps and gloves went flying as the Red Devils converged and formed a celebratory dogpile in front of the pitching mound.

“I got squished at the bottom,” said Morris.

Not that he was complaining. What was there to complain about? Center Moriches (12-11) secured its third county crown in five years (including 2020 when there was no season played because of the coronavirus pandemic).

Morris, a junior righthander, had worked two batters into the sixth inning, hitting Ryan Janis with a pitch and walking Ben Voegel when Center Moriches coach Paul Gibson III walked to the mound for a pitching change.

“It was a tough decision to take Riley out during the no-hitter, but you know, when I went out there, he’s a team player,” Gibson said. “He’s a team kid. We made the decision that it was time to make the move and Jack [Rupe] and Leyton were able to get it done to finish it for us.”

Morris was charged with the run pinch runner Brendan Buckley scored later that inning on Brady Mahon’s RBI walk, but No. 3 seed Mattituck (11-12) didn’t manage a hit.

“I felt great on the mound,” Morris said. “Everything was working.”

Gibson said Morris’ pitch count was around 80 when he made the change. “It was a situation thing,” he said. “We didn’t want him to face that lineup one more time around there, so we just made a decision to go to our two seniors to close it up.”

Mattituck second baseman Ben Voegel fielding a ground ball during Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Center Moriches in Game 2 of the Suffolk Class B finals. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Morris said he had “no clue” that a no-hitter was in progress. “I just wanted to, you know, get out there and get that win,” he said.

Morris had three strikeouts and walked one, with the one hit batsman.

“We threw a lot of strikes today, let our defense work and that’s kind of the formula we kind of use,” Gibson said. “Keep the ball over the plate, let the batter swing the bat, do our thing on defense.”

The closest Mattituck came to breaking the no-hitter came in the fourth when Bryce Hansen hammered a ball to right-centerfield, only to see centerfielder Louis Iannacchino rob him of a home run, falling over the fence in the process. “It took the life out of us a little bit,” said Mahon.

Hansen said: “I thought it had a chance. I knew it was tough with the wind. I knew I got a hold of it pretty good, but I definitely didn’t think there was any chance of him catching it, that’s for sure.”

Hansen said he was about to reach second base when he heard the out called. “I was in shock,” he said.

Hansen had also shot a liner in the first that was misplayed in the outfield and scored an error.

Center Moriches took a 1-0 lead in the fourth after Iannacchino drew a full-count walk and Pulsipher rapped a full-count pitch for a double inside the third-base line.

In the fourth, Rupe scored on a fielding error after reaching base on a bad-hop infield single.

Andrew Berman pitched six innings for Mattituck. He reached a full count nine times and threw 116 pitches. The junior righty allowed four hits, two walks and had two strikeouts.

Center Moriches won Game 1 on its field, 8-0, on Monday. To reach the finals of the double-elimination tournament, Mattituck had defeated Center Moriches, 1-0, and Babylon, 4-2.

Brady, one of Mattituck’s 11 seniors, was asked to sum up the season.

“I think anybody that says it wasn’t a disappointment is lying to you,” he said. “We were the team to beat. We didn’t play bad today. It’s just when you go on the road for Game One, I mean, put up a goose egg like that and just zero intensity whatsoever, you put yourself in a bit of a hole and you can’t afford to have a game where a home run gets robbed that could have tied it.”

Mattituck coach Dan O’Sullivan said, ironically, the Tuckers had good batting practices before both games in the finals, hitting the ball harder than they have all year. With the playoffs, though, he said, “It’s whoever’s hot at the right time and, unfortunately, we’re not hot right now.”

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