Sports

Boys baseball: Mattituck loses out in pitchers duel

Those fortunate spectators who showed up at the Mattituck baseball game in Babylon on Monday were treated to one of the best pitching duels in Suffolk County this season.

For five-plus innings, Tuckers sophomore right-hander Tyler Brown went pitch-for-pitch with junior left-hander Aidan Kistner.

Brown left with a 1-0 lead. The Tuckers, however, went on to suffer a 4-1 League VII defeat.

“It’s frustrating,” Mattituck head coach Dan O’Sullivan said. “It’s a bummer because we had a plan going into the game. Tyler has been pitching his butt off. He did everything he could. Our hope was to get him through four or five [innings] and then go to Ben [Voegel], who’s one of our starters, because we just wanted to get one win in the series.”

A win would go a long way toward helping the Tuckers (4-10, 3-10) qualify for the Class B playoffs. Mattituck hosted the Panthers (10-5, 8-5) on Wednesday and plays again at Babylon on Friday.

Voegel relieved Brown in the bottom of the sixth inning, and surrendered four runs.

Brown, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound hurler, said he pitched his best game of the season. He struck out nine, walked four and scattered four hits in five innings of work.

Robert O’Rourk photos

“I struggled with command. A few mechanical things I was working on between starts,” he said. “I knew we had a big series coming up. I made some adjustments and it definitely showed.”

Catcher Mike Garrett liked what he saw.

“Good bounce back from his last start,” he said. “He was really finding the zone. Got it down, kept these guys chasing. His curveball was really working. They didn’t know what to expect. He was in a groove. I let him work.”

“He’s a gamer,” O’Sullivan added. “He’s in 10th grade, and I’ve got to remember that sometimes. He’s a leader. He’s been here two years. He knows how to pitch. He knows what he needs to do for his body to make sure that he’s ready for the next start.”

Twice, Brown pitched out of jams.

In the second, Babylon had runners at second and third with two outs, but Brown struck out Jake Ostertag to end the inning. He faced a similar situation in the fifth, whiffing Gio Rodriguez.

“I’ve got to just trust my stuff,” Brown said. “I trusted my fastball and had good defense behind me.”

The Tuckers had Kistner on the ropes three times, stranding seven base runners.

With runners on first and third in the second, Kistner fanned Trey Hansen for the final out.

In the fifth, Brown’s single drove in left fielder James Reidy. The Tuckers loaded the bases, but Dylan Spooner lined out, ending the threat.

In the sixth, Mattituck had men on second and third with one out, but Brandon Buckley struck out and Hansen grounded out.

“That’s the name of the game right there,” O’Sullivan said of the stranded runners.

During his six-inning outing, Kistner, who notched a no-hitter against the Tuckers last season, struck out nine, walked four and surrendered two hits Monday.

“We knew that he was going to be tough,” O’Sullivan said.

Babylon took control in the sixth. Charlie Murphy got on base via a lead-off error by third baseman Sean Murphy, and scored on Brett Coffey’s single. Joe Cavalo’s single to center drove in two. Johnny Harkins added a run-scoring double.

“They are a great team,” O’Sullivan said. “They don’t make mistakes. We played error-free for the most part. In the sixth, the error bug bit us a little bit and unfortunately that’s been our season. It’s just been one bounce the wrong way and it comes back to haunt us.”

Cavalo retired the side in the seventh, striking out two.

The Tuckers still don’t know their playoff status. They compete with Babylon in a league that is dominated by Class A schools.

“I’ve heard a lot of different things.” O’Sullivan said. “Nothing has been given to us in writing, which is a little frustrating.”

Teams need to finish with at least .500 record in their class to qualify for the postseason. Through Monday, Mattituck was 1-1, and Port Jefferson 0-2 against Class B foes. If the Tuckers don’t stay at .500, they can petition to compete in the playoffs. O’Sullivan noted that his team swept a three-game series against John Glenn (Class A) last week, which might help their cause.

“We’re trying to get better, not think too much about the playoffs,” Garrett said. “Just take it game by game, try to get the wins we can.”