Baseball: Tuckers fall to rebounding Wildcats

After sweeping the first two series of the baseball season, Shoreham-Wading River baseball took a step backward, losing all three against Bayport-Blue Point last week. Looking to bounce back, the Wildcats hosted Mattituck on Monday.

Mattituck, clumped in a division with a bunch of larger Class A schools, hasn’t been able to muster a win in the league to this point — though they’ve lost two by only a run. They’ve played Center Moriches and Bayport-Blue Point so far this season, who currently sit in first and second place.

Shoreham-Wading River would eventually emerge victorious by the score of 9-5, but Mattituck put up a fight and proved that they can play with anyone in the division. 

With Gordon Votruba pitching for the Wildcats, Mattituck snatched the lead to start the game. After Mike Garrett reached first on an error to start the inning and Ben Voegel, who finished a perfect 4-for-4 from the plate, clubbed a double, the Tuckers had runners on second and third with no outs. Brenden Buckley and Sean Murphy each followed up with a sac fly to bring both of the runners home to score, making it 2-0.

“We are a smaller school playing against the big boys so you always have to take the positives out of every game,” said Mattituck head coach Dan O’Sullivan. “I like the fact that we manufactured some runs early on, which we haven’t been doing lately. Playing a little small ball, moving runners over with some sac flys, it’s important for our success.”

Though Tyler Brown, who struck out eight Wildcats in five innings, was pitching effectively for Mattituck, a series of walks set up a big inning for the Wildcats in the bottom of the second. 

With the bases loaded, SWR’s Christian Cox connected on a single that ate up the shortstop to tie the baseball game at 2-2 and then Joseph Leo cleared the bases with a 3-RBI double down the right field line. Leo also delivered an RBI single in the first inning to get the Wildcats on the board.

“I was hunting a fastball there in that situation,” Leo said. “I wanted to break the game open a bit and with the bases loaded, I knew he had to come challenge me. I got my pitch and was able to drive it.”

“We knew this was a big game for us after last week,” Cox said. “We know we have a strong team this year and the ability to bounce back shows a lot about the heart of this team.”

The score would remain 5-2 for the next two innings as Votruba and Brown settled in and calmed down their respective teams. Votruba was solid on the mound, throwing six innings and striking out nine. 

Mattituck would fight back again in the top of the sixth inning, with Voegel starting off the inning with a double followed by an RBI triple by Buckley and an RBI single by Murphy, but 6-4 was as close as they got before the Wildcats poured it on in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Votruba, who bats cleanup for the Wildcats, crushed a bases-clearing 3 RBI double to extend the lead to 9-4 in the sixth to essentially put the game away.

Speaking of Leo and Votruba, who bat third and fourth in the order, SWR head coach Kevin Willi said: “That’s why we have those guys there. We expect them to come up with the big hits when we need them. That’s what we were lacking in last week’s series.

“A lot of times last week we had runners in scoring position and we took fastball strike one,” Willi continued. “Once you’re behind in the count it’s hard to come back. But like the Votruba at bat, he fouled a couple pitches away and worked the count in his favor to eventually come up with a big hit.”

Cox, Leo and Votruba all collected two hits at the top of the lineup and produced eight RBIs for Shoreham-Wading River baseball.

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Tuckers fall short in non-league lax opener