Baseball: Tuckers get an early glimpse of spring with late winter scrimmage

Under beautiful blue skies and temperatures soaring to 50 degrees with a brisk wind, Mattituck played a baseball game Thursday afternoon. But it really didn’t matter who won.

That the Tuckers had an opportunity to play the “summer game” in the dying days of winter was the main accomplishment.

The team competed in an intrasquad game on the fourth official day of training for the upcoming high school season. It was the first day the team was able to play outside, due to inclement weather earlier in the week.

“I’m so happy to get back outside again,” said senior right-hander Andrew Berman, who hurled two innings in the five-inning game. “It’s been a while and I’m just happy it’s finally baseball season.I get to play my last season with my two best friends, Ryan and Mike, so I’m really excited for that. I’m just hoping we can have a good run this year.”

Those best friends, seniors and three-year starters Ryan Janis and Mike Mowdy, echoed those sentiments.

“It’s nice. It’s been a while,” said Janis, a catcher. “See the energy we have. Just to be out here, it’s fun.”

Ever since Mattituck lost in the Suffolk County Class B basketball semifinals to Babylon on Feb. 11, Mowdy, a center fielder, has been looking forward to the new season of sports. “It was nice to have baseball as a reserve,” he said.

Berman, also a member of the basketball team, started to prep for baseball right after Christmas.

“It was basketball practice early Saturday, then right to baseball after,” he said. “A long day.”

Although it was the Tuckers’ first day out on the diamond, they certainly seemed to be in mid-season form as far as the banter on the field and from inside the dugout.

“Nuke it, man.”

“Goodbye (add a name).”

“Hey, good walk.”

And so on.

“One of the best things is that this team is going to be really close,” Berman said. “That’s a big strength. You could tell just from hearing how we’re always chirping. We’re having fun. We know each other well. We have great chemistry. It might be one of the better sides of our game.”

“We definitely have energy, which is a good thing,” Janis said. “I want everyone to be lively and be ready to play every day. When they hear that, they get energized.”

There will be plenty of reasons to get energized — and improve on a season in which the Tuckers finished 8-9 in the league and 11-11 overall before being swept by archrival Center Moriches in the Class B final.

“I remember not being happy and I didn’t like that feeling,” Janis said. “I don’t want to feel that again.”

There’s a fire in their bellies before the first pitch, which will be thrown against Southold, in a non-league game, March 29.

“I’m starving to win it this year,” Berman said. “We lost in basketball to Babylon. We want to sweep them bad. I want to beat Center Moriches. I want to get as far as we can. We need to focus on our strengths and not get in our heads.”

Mowdy also has similarly high hopes.

“It’s just a motivation to be the best,” he said. “You never want to lose, especially in the county finals, but I missed the team. The team not being there hurts more than the actual loss, just because I loved all the seniors on the team last year. I was really close to them. It just stinks that they aren’t here anymore.”

This year it’s Janis, Mowdy and Berman who are expected to lead the way.

“My goals are to be a leader,” Janis said. “I would like to see the program grow even after I’m not here.”

Head coach Dan O’Sullivan was in the middle of parent-teacher meetings at Cutchogue East Elementary School and could not attend the scrimmage. But assistant coach Christian Figurniak, who ran the practice and served as the home plate umpire, liked what he saw.

“This is the first time we’ve gotten to see these guys playing amongst each other,” Figurniak said. “There are still a couple of questions of where guys might play. It’s good to try people out in different spots. Today was very beneficial for us.

“It’s definitely early. I’m happy with the way the guys are throwing the ball. We’re putting up some competitive bats. Being the first day out, I think it was very productive.”