A sign of whether the Mattituck High School baseball team had a good season or not can be determined by Steve De Caro’s presence or absence from the Center Moriches Memorial Day parade. If De Caro is not at the parade, that’s a good thing for the Mattituck coach because it means his team has practice that day in preparation for a playoff game. If he is at the parade, it means Mattituck didn’t make it to the playoffs.
Guess who was at the parade last year?
After getting off to a 9-5 start last season, Mattituck needed only two wins from its final six games in order to secure a postseason place. It didn’t happen. The Tuckers crumbled, lost all six, packed up their equipment, and De Caro spent the second half of May hunting and fishing.
“It was rough,” Mattituck’s all-league shortstop, Marcos Perivolaris, said. “We should’ve made it. We kind of just fell off the wagon a little at the end. This year is going to be different, I know that.”
Why the optimism?
Six returning starters are a big reason.
Perivolaris, a sophomore who is already in his third varsity year, is one of them. And then there are two other three-year varsity starters, right fielder John Schultz and pitcher/third baseman Ryan Finger. They’re both seniors. The other veteran regulars are two juniors, catcher/pitcher Cameron Burt and center fielder Brian Pelan, and a sophomore, second baseman Chris Dwyer.
Sitting out the playoffs for the second time in three years did not sit well with Finger.
“It bothered me because no one wants to miss out on the postseason,” he said. “That’s what you play for. It gave most of us guys a whole new perspective on what we need to do.”
Finger has heard talk in the school hallways about how the Tuckers are much improved and how they are going to win more games than they did last year, but he knows that it takes more than words to win games. “People can talk the talk, but we got to see the younger guys step up and play like they can play,” he said.
The team needs to cut down on errors and be more judicious in the pitches it swings at in the batter’s box, said Finger.
De Caro said he hopes Mattituck’s strength will be its pitching. All but two of the team members can pitch. De Caro said he doesn’t know what the starting pitching rotation will look like just yet, but the names Burt, Finger and Perivolaris quickly come to mind.
“The problem is we got a bunch of [Nos.] 2 and 3 guys; it’s that 1 guy,” De Caro said. “Who’s going to step up and be our number one guy for this year? That’s our big question right now.”
Finger accepted his share of the blame for Mattituck failing to reach the playoffs last year and said he felt as if most of the players were “lost.” Now, he said, the team has refocused. “It’s not just three or four leaders. Everyone on the team talks. Everyone on the team does what they have to do, so it’s a whole different ballgame this year.”
If nothing else, last year’s disappointment serves as motivation for this year.
“Without a doubt,” Perivolaris said. “We know what it’s like to not make the playoffs now. We need to make the playoffs and we need to go far.”
That way De Caro will be coaching baseball instead of watching a parade.