GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Sean Finnegan of Center Moriches upended Mattituck catcher Brian Pelan, but was thrown out at home plate by first baseman Ian Nish on a fielder’s choice in the fifth inning.
SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS B TOURNAMENT | RED DEVILS 1, TUCKERS 0
A question over whether or not Mattituck pitcher Cameron Burt threw a no-hitter hung over the Tuckers’ first playoff game on Friday. When the dust finally settled, though, it was determined later that evening that the junior right-hander had thrown a no-hitter. Here’s the kicker: He was the losing pitcher.
Burt pitched a no-hitter and lost, and Center Moriches junior Patrick Bryant tossed a three-hitter and won, 1-0, in the first game for both baseball teams in the Suffolk County Class B double-elimination tournament.
Crazy stuff, huh?
“I’ve never been involved in a game where a pitcher threw so well and lost a game like that,” said Mattituck first baseman Ian Nish.
It was such a strange mix that Burt undoubtedly felt mixed emotions following his first career no-hitter.
“I don’t know how to feel,” he said. “I’m glad how I pitched except for a few walks, but it’s like you said before, baseball is a crazy game and anything can happen.”
The Mattituck side believed that Burt had thrown his first career no-hitter, but the official scorebook belongs to the home team, which was Center Moriches (13-7). After the game, Center Moriches coach Mike Garofola said he thought a play that the Tuckers (13-8) considered to be an error should have been ruled a hit for his team. But he said he didn’t have the best angle, so he consulted with one of his assistant coaches after the game before coming back with the verdict: a hit.
“It looked like it took a late, bad hop,” Garofola said. “Either way, whether it’s a one-hitter or a no-hitter, it’s unusual to win a ball game when you have less hits than they do, and it’s none or one, but you know, listen, that’s baseball. Weird things happen sometimes.”
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Ian Nish connected for one of Mattituck’s three hits against Center Moriches.
Things got weirder still. Later that evening, after consulting with others who saw the game, Garofola changed course and ruled that it was a no-hitter after all.
The play in question came in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Stephen Bryant struck a hard-hit ball that took a late, high hop, glancing off Nish’s glove. That was the closest Center Moriches came to getting a hit.
As it turned out, though, the Red Devils, who were all playing in a playoff game for the first time in their varsity careers, didn’t need any hits.
“It would eventually come [down] to who played the best defense and who could get a run across first,” said Patrick Bryant.
The game’s sole run came in the fifth, the only inning in which Burt struggled, issuing three walks and throwing three wild pitches. James Schaefer, who had drawn one of those walks, scored on one of those wild pitches, beating catcher Brian Pelan’s throw to Burt, who covered home plate.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” said Mattituck coach Steve DeCaro.
A couple of batters after the run scored, Sean Finnegan was thrown out at home plate on a fielder’s choice in which Nish threw to Pelan, who was upended on the play.
It was a true pitching duel between the two aces. The 6-foot-4 Patrick Bryant (7-1) had four strikeouts and no walks. Burt (5-2) finished with five walks and five strikeouts; he also hit the first batter he faced, Vollkommer.
“It was what I was expecting because it was our best pitcher against their best pitcher,” said Nish.
After Joe Tardif led off the game by socking a single to center field, Mattituck managed only two more hits the rest of the way. Nish lined a hit off Patrick Bryant’s glove, beating second baseman Stephen Bryant’s throw to first baseman Kevin O’Brien in the fifth. Mattituck posed a threat in the sixth as Pelan led off with a single. Pelan later managed to make his way to third base, but Patrick Bryant retired the next three batters in order, the last two on strikeouts.
“He pitched a great game,” Garofola said. “He made three bad pitches all day.”
That includes the last one. Patrick Bryant hung a changeup on his 67th pitch, and Nish struck it near the tip of his bat, driving it deep to left field, only to see Tyler Erhardt make the catch for the game-ending out.
“Pat Bryant pitched a beautiful game, but we had our chances,” DeCaro said. “We’d get a guy on, and he’d bear down, and he’d make some beautiful pitches.”
Center Moriches picked up its third win in four games against Mattituck this year. Mattituck will play host to No. 4 Babylon (11-10) on Monday in an elimination game for both teams. Babylon lost to No. 1 Southampton on Friday, 4-0.
“I think our team had a great game,” Burt said. “It’s just that we didn’t have it in the cards to win, I guess. We hit the ball all over the place. They just caught everything.”
Burt was told afterward that if nothing else, he has an interesting story to tell for the rest of his life.
He said, “I’d still rather have a win than a story, though.”