06/18/15 12:00pm
06/18/2015 12:00 PM
Mattituck's Joe Tardif pitched a four-hitter to lead the Tuckers to a win in the state semifinals Saturday. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Mattituck’s Joe Tardif pitched a four-hitter to lead the Tuckers to a win in the state semifinals Saturday. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

As the Mattituck High School baseball team assembled in the main lobby for a special celebration march through the school Monday to honor the Tuckers’ winning the New York State Class B championship, the school’s principal, Shawn Petretti, turned to center fielder Joe Tardif.

“Tardif, you know the drill, right?” he said.

Tardif laughed and said, “Yes, I do.” (more…)

06/17/15 12:00pm
06/17/2015 12:00 PM
Mattituck realized its ambitious goal of winning its first state championship on Saturday in Binghamton. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Mattituck realized its ambitious goal of winning its first state championship on Saturday in Binghamton. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

The odds against the scenario had to be extraordinary, and yet there they were, two baseball teams from high schools located only 7.46 miles away from each other, both playing in Binghamton, N.Y., on the final day of the postseason in pursuit of a state championship.

Who would have figured? Who could have guessed?  (more…)

05/26/15 8:28pm
05/26/2015 8:28 PM
Joe Tardif drove in four runs, three from his second home run of the year, as Mattituck shut out Babylon, 7-0, in the opener to the county Class B finals. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Joe Tardif drove in four runs, three from his second home run of the year, as Mattituck shut out Babylon, 7-0, in the opener to the county Class B finals. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS B FINALS, GAME 1 | TUCKERS 7, PANTHERS 0

Joe Tardif has a knack for amazing people with his athletic exploits. He did it again on Tuesday — with his pitching arm, his bat and his glove.

Tardif delivered a fine pitching performance, drove in four runs (three from a home run) and made one of the nicest fielding plays of the day as Mattituck took the first game of the Suffolk County Class B baseball finals, 7-0 over Babylon. The top-seeded Tuckers (22-1) can wrap up their fifth county championship in 13 years on Wednesday if they win the second game in Babylon. (more…)

04/07/15 6:12pm
04/07/2015 6:12 PM
James Nish connected for a tie-breaking home run for Mattituck in the sixth inning of its 6-2 defeat of Southampton. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

James Nish connected for a tie-breaking home run for Mattituck in the sixth inning of its 6-2 defeat of Southampton on Tuesday. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

TUCKERS 6, MARINERS 2

It’s not easy pitching a baseball when the weather is cold, in the mid-40s, and it’s raining. It’s not easy hitting a ball under those conditions, either.

That didn’t stop the Mattituck Tuckers in the opener to their three-game Suffolk County League VIII series against the Southampton Mariners on Tuesday. Joe Tardif fired 11 strikeouts and James Nish crushed a tie-breaking home run, propelling the unbeaten Tuckers to a 6-2 triumph at Mattituck High School, their fourth win from as many games. (more…)

11/21/14 5:00pm
11/21/2014 5:00 PM
Parker Tuthill is one of the guards who make up the strength of the Mattituck team. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Parker Tuthill is one of the guards who make up the strength of the Mattituck team. (Credit: Garret Meade)

The Mattituck High School boys basketball team looks pretty darn good. It has speed. It has shooters. It has ball handlers. And it has guards, plenty of guards — even some forwards who play like guards.

What the Tuckers don’t have any more is the high-flying, above-the-rim dimension that Gene Allen afforded them. (more…)

08/27/14 10:00am
08/27/2014 10:00 AM
Mattituck players loosen up during Monday morning's practice in Aldrich Lane. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Mattituck players loosen up during Monday morning’s practice in Aldrich Lane. (Credit: Garret Meade)

For the first time in a long time, there was a new look and feel to the Mattituck High School boys soccer team’s first practice of the season Monday morning.

Because workers were putting the finishing touches on the new track at the school, the Tuckers’ training session was held at the soccer fields on Aldrich Lane in Laurel where the Mattituck Soccer Club typically plays.

They had the complex to themselves. There were no distractions on what was a beautiful, sunny August morning. (more…)

06/06/14 8:25pm
06/06/2014 8:25 PM
Mattituck players celebrating the team's second Long Island championship in four years following their 9-2 win over Wheatley. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Mattituck players celebrating the team’s second Long Island championship in four years following their 9-2 win over Wheatley. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

SOUTHEAST REGION CLASS B SEMIFINAL | TUCKERS 9, WHEATLEY 2

Because of inconvenient scheduling, the Mattituck Tuckers had a long bus ride home from Farmingdale State College on Friday evening. After a night’s rest, they will be back on the road the following morning for an even longer bus ride back west to Mamaroneck High School.

Judging by the roar of cheers heard emanating from the baseball team’s bus before it headed out for the ride home, the Tuckers didn’t mind. After all, they had a lot to cheer about. They are Long Island champions again. (more…)

05/12/14 6:00pm
05/12/2014 6:00 PM
Joe Tardif's penchant for stealing bases is tough on his pants. Port Jefferson/Knox shortstop Andy Vasquez could not prevent the Mattituck sophomore from bagging one of his three steals on Friday.

Joe Tardif’s penchant for stealing bases is tough on his pants. Port Jefferson/Knox shortstop Andy Vasquez could not prevent the Mattituck sophomore from bagging one of his three steals on Friday. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Joe Tardif is tough on opposing pitchers, catchers and baseball pants.

As for Tardif’s problem with baseball pants, he really has his speed — and his base-stealing ability — to blame. The Mattituck High School sophomore said he always seems to rip the pants on the back left leg as a result of sliding. He has even ripped sliding shorts. A few weeks ago, he sustained a bothersome cut on the back of his left leg as a result of all the sliding.

It couldn’t be as bothersome, however, as Tardif’s activity on the base paths has been to opposing teams.

The Tuckers have had some good base stealers over the years, players like Kevin Litchhult, Rich Pisacano, Tommy Smith and Brian Tardif, Joe Tardif’s older brother. But none of them have matched what Joe Tardif has done this season, stealing a school-record 33 bases in 20 games. He has been thrown out only once this season.

“He’s one of the best base stealers I’ve ever seen,” said Pisacano, who is now one of Mattituck’s assistant coaches.

Tardif is seen as a virtual automatic run when he gets on base, an ideal leadoff batter who kick-starts the offense.

“He’s the fastest kid I know,” said Tuckers pitcher/shortstop Marcos Perivolaris.

Tardif said he has run 60 yards in 6.85 seconds. That speed is one of the reasons why he has free reign to take off for a base when the mood strikes him.

“He can do anything he wants,” Tuckers coach Steve DeCaro said. “It’s easier than me to keep giving the steal sign over and over and over.”

Tardif’s answers to interview questions are concise and without much, if any, elaboration.

Asked for his secret to stealing, he replied, “Just getting a good read off the pitcher.”

Tardif has had as many as six steals in one game. It looked like he was headed in that direction during a 7-2 win over Port Jefferson/Knox on Friday at Mattituck High School. Through the first three innings, he already had three thefts, twice stealing second base, and taking third once.

On his second steal of the game, Tardif appeared to be in pain and he walked somewhat gingerly around the second-base bag. Some wondered if he had pulled a hamstring, but that wasn’t the case. It was another instance of that troublesome cut bothering him. Asked later about the cut, Tardif said, “It’s not that bad.”

Once on base, Tardif can be quite a distraction. Pitchers know he will try to steal and do everything they can to try to prevent it, but more often than not it seems, he still gets the steal anyway. During one sequence on Friday, Port Jefferson/Knox pitcher Matt Keresztes made seven straight throws to first base in an attempt to keep Tardif close to the bag.

It didn’t deter Tardif. He stole second anyway.

“He’s a pain in the butt on the bases,” said Pisacano. Pisacano said that as soon as Tardif sees the pitcher move toward home plate “he’s gone.”

DeCaro said: “Joe has grown up quite a bit in the two years he’s [been] on the varsity. Last year he was just fast but this year he’s done a good job of reading pitchers and actually thinking about what’s about to happen and anticipating.”

Although he is quiet, with a serious demeanor, Tardif also has an unmistakable funny side to him that his coaches and teammates see.

“He’s quiet, but when he speaks he’s hilarious,” Pisacano said. “He’s a great personality. He’s one of the people that will just sneak in and say something funny and walk away. You have to laugh.”

Tardif benefits from Mattituck’s aggressive playing style. Taking liberties on the base paths is part of the team’s nature.

That was evident Friday. Tardif wasn’t the only Mattituck player to pilfer. The Tuckers were successful on all five bases they attempted to steal, including two by John Dwyer and one by Perivolaris.

“We love to steal in Mattituck,” said Pisacano. He added, “I used to say, singles are more fun than doubles because I get to steal second on a single.”

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11/26/13 9:35am
11/26/2013 9:35 AM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Will Gildersleeve, a junior, is the senior member of Mattituck's talented three-headed back court.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Will Gildersleeve, a junior, is the senior member of Mattituck’s talented three-headed back court.

A former guard himself, Paul Ellwood appreciates good guard play. So, when discussing the three talented guards he has on his Mattituck High School boys basketball team, a happy grin creases the coach’s face. He knows what he has and he likes it.

What the Tuckers have are three quality guards who are basically interchangeable. All of them can play point guard and all of them can play shooting guard. And, to top it off, none of them are seniors, which means they will be around for a while. That’s a luxury for a small school.

“It’s like baseball, you can’t have enough pitching,” Ellwood said. “In basketball, you can’t have enough guards, so it’s not a problem.”

The guards in question are junior Will Gildersleeve, sophomore Joe Tardif and sophomore Parker Tuthill. Gildersleeve and Tardif started a lot of games for the Tuckers last year. Gildersleeve was All-League honorable mention, and Tardif was the runner-up for the League VII rookie of the year award. Tuthill, meanwhile, had what Ellwood called “a great year on JV.”

Gildersleeve may be the most physical of the three. Ellwood expects Gildersleeve to force teams into foul trouble. Tardif has blazing speed and can bring the Tuckers fast transition points. As for Tuthill, Ellwood, who has coached Mattituck since 2003, said, “He’s incredibly skilled, maybe the most skilled guard I’ve had since I’ve been here in terms of handling the ball.”

Another guard, Jon Dwyer, is good enough to play for the varsity team but has been assigned to the junior varsity team. “There’s just not enough room,” explained Ellwood.

The last time Ellwood saw this type of talent in his back court was during the 2010-11 season when he had Connor David and twins Steve and Tom Ascher playing for him. That team won a Long Island championship.

“I guess you could say we’re lucky, but definitely a plus for us,” Gildersleeve said before Monday’s night’s practice.

In order to maximize his back-court strength, Ellwood is adjusting his offense accordingly. He said he has done a lot of reading on offenses and installed some offenses he never used before, including a four-guard offense that Jay Wright used at Villanova.

“When you let the kids be creative, it’s fun to watch,” Ellwood said. “It’s fun for the kids and it’s harder for the other team to defend. The key is they have to make good decisions and not force it, and use their teammates.”

Ellwood expects a lot of kickouts for 3-point looks, but he likes the instincts of his guards. “All three of them like to attack the basket, which is good,” he said. “They don’t settle for the three. A lot of times guards these days are happy to just sit outside and shoot a three. So we’ve been stressing attack the basket, the three is always going to be there. We’d rather attack first and shoot second. It gives us a better look.”

The running style seems to suit the guards just fine.

“We play the best when we just don’t run an offense, we just fast break points,” said Tuthill, who is Gildersleeve’s cousin. “That’s the best way to keep a fast-paced game. Let the other team adjust to that.”

Tardif smiles at the mention of fast-paced play, but he also understands the importance of gaining possession of the ball in the first place. “We have to make sure that we rebound,” he said. “Rebounding and defense are the first thing, then scoring will come after that.”

Gildersleeve said: “I think we’re like a guard-built team. I mean, all of us are fast so that’s how hopefully we’ll get most of our wins this year, by outrunning teams. The whole idea this year is we want to run fast break. We don’t really want to have set offenses, just beat the teams down the court and outwork them.”

Babylon and Southampton are seen as League VII’s two powers this coming season, but Ellwood said the league is strong and a case can be made for seven of the league’s eight teams getting into the playoffs. He said, “If you’re not loaded with guards, you’re going to struggle in this league.”

The Tuckers should be covered in that area.

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