April 26, 2006
First Place Fits Fine For Tuckers
Two three-game series, five wins. New league, same results; is there any challenge that the Mattituck baseball team can't overcome?
After winning their three-game series against the six-time defending League VII champion Bayport-Blue Point Mustangs two-games-to-one, the Tuckers, who moved up from League VIII this season after winning the Class C championship in 2005, now find themselves alone in first place after six games.
"They [the Bayport-Blue Point players] were a little down this week and after all that team has gone through, we did our best to do something nice for them," said Mattituck head coach Steve DeCaro. DeCaro's Tuckers had special wristbands made up with the initials "CG" written on them in remembrance of the Phantoms star centerfielder Carlo Geronimo, whose life was tragically cut short earlier this month in a car accident.
The Mattituck players presented each Bayport-Blue Point player with a wristband and they also wore identical ones throughout the series as a show of camaraderie and respect.
The Phantoms won the opening game of the series 3-1 on April 18 at Mattituck before the Tuckers took game two 7-6 at Bayport last Thursday and the series clincher 13-3 last Friday back at the Tuckers' home field.
"Their [Bayport's] hearts were heavy, but it was a good win for them and I think they really needed it considering what they were going through," DeCaro said. "The other days, I guess were our days."
Despite the loss, game one of the series was far from discouraging for the Tuckers as they saw Joe Finora, the ace of their pitching staff, break out with his best start of the season, throwing seven strong innings with seven strikeouts while allowing only one earned run and one walk.
"He [Finora] was just lights out," remarked DeCaro. "We just had a couple of bad breaks in that game. We make a play or two and it's a different outcome."
In Mattituck's 7-6 victory in game two, shutdown reliever John Crosser struck out four Phantoms batters in three perfect innings of relief to pick up his first victory of the season after entering the game in relief of Kyle Pumillo.
Keith Connell had two key hits for the Tuckers, going 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a sac bunt and teammate Don Fahey went 2-for-2, walked twice, drove in two runs and also scored once. Jake Sisson went 1-for-1 and reached base four times (three walks) as Mattituck rallied with late inning runs to win the game.
"John was unbelievable," said DeCaro. He came into the game in a jam with the bases loaded and the game tied 5-5 and proceeded to strike out the first batter he faced before getting the next two to ground out to second base. "We'll take getting out of a bases loaded situation with no outs and giving up only one run any day."
On the final out of the game, second baseman Don Fahey made a spectacular dive up the middle on what looked to be a sure hit, only to make a brilliant play to knock the ball down. It was picked up by shortstop Pat Claire, who fired the throw to first base to end the game. "It was a great win for us," DeCaro said. "We got to their [Bayport's] number one pitcher early and we got to their bullpen too."
Last Friday, the Tuckers simply had to watch pitcher Alex Sirico work his magic for five innings while the Mattituck bats posted big inning scores that would not be answered. The Tuckers scored five runs in the first and five more in the third to quickly put the game out of reach.
Chris Rauseo, whose older brother Peter was a hitting star for the Tuckers last season in their run for the Suffolk County Class C title, went 3-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored and made some incredible defensive plays at first base and Claire also chipped in with a 2-for-3 performance and scored twice.
Sirico struck out five Phantoms batters while allowing only one earned run on three hits and two walks. "Alex pitched five real good innings and pretty much shut them down," DeCaro said. He had his fastball working really well and he also had some real good defense behind him."
Sirico also helped his cause at the plate, going 2-for-2 with two RBI and catcher Billy Amato went 2-for-2 with a double, a run scored and two RBI. "The best part [of the game], was that everybody got an at-bat," said DeCaro. Eight of Mattituck's nine starters had at least one hit in the game.
"We're kind of happy right now, we're in first place and we feel better about where we're at. It was a tough week for us and our kids were very sympathetic for Bayport-Blue Point," said DeCaro. "I didn't know what to expect from my team, but they responded well and played three great games. I'm very proud of them."