Wyatt Schmidt drove in the tying run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second and Alex Soyars followed up with a bases-loaded, ground-rule double to drive in two more runs and put the Southampton baseball team (19-2) ahead for good in a 5-1 win over Mattituck in the Suffolk County Class B Championship on May 28. This win marks the third county title since 2009 for the Mariners and head coach Ike Birdsall.
Southampton was scheduled to play Nassau County Class B Champion Wheatley High School for the Long Island Class B Championship on Tuesday, June 4, at Hauppauge High School. That game ended too late for the sports deadline, but coverage is in this week’s news section and at 27east.com. The winner of that game will advance to the regional final, with a trip to the New York State Final Four on the line. The regional final was slated for Wednesday, June 5, at Dowling Sports Complex in Shirley.
Following two rain postponements, Southampton held on to defeat a feisty Mattituck team. The Tuckers scored first in the top of the second when an infield grounder drove home Ian Nish from third. Nish had led the inning off with a double and advanced to third on a ground out. The Mariners fought back in the bottom half of the inning thanks to some key at-bats and solid base running by Eddie McLaughlin, John Navan, Henry Egan, and Jake Marano, who helped set the table for Schmidt and Soyars.
McLaughlin got things started when he reached first on an infield error. Navan was substituted to pinch run for McLauglin and stole second. Egan and Marano both went deep into their counts and eventually worked walks, loading the bases with two outs. Schmidt then hit a grounder that looked routine enough, but Egan, running from second, seemed to screen the shortstop, who was unable to play the ball cleanly, allowing Schmidt to reach first and Navan to tie the score, 1-1. With the bases still loaded, Soyars ripped a liner over the left fielder’s head that bounced over the home run fence for a ground rule double, scoring both Egan and Marano.
Soyars knew right away his hit was huge.
“That’s a bomb,” he reflected, describing his initial feeling when he made contact. “I heard the crowd, and it put a smile on my face. I had to bring up something and put the ball in play, and after [Mattituck] dropped a fly ball that was easy, they gave me a second chance so I said I had to take advantage of that.”
Soyars was referring to his foul pop-up between home and first base that apparently no one in the Mattituck infield wanted any part of and should have been caught for the final out. The ball dropped untouched in between several Tuckers near the foul line, giving Soyars another chance to drive in runs. Soyars did, scorching the next pitch, a high fastball at the letters for probably his biggest hit of his season so far.
Head coach Ike Birdsall was happy for Soyars who had been struggling at the plate. “It couldn’t have happened at a better time,” he said. “I’d love for him to be peaking now.”
Schmidt (8-0) pitched a two-hit complete game with six strikeouts despite a longer wait in between starts. Schmidt admitted he didn’t have his best outing but he battled his way through each inning.
“I didn’t have my stuff in the beginning,” he said. “It’s been awhile since I last pitched. Some games you don’t have all of your stuff, but you just power through it. That’s what I did today.”
Eddie McLaughlin added a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth, his first of the year, to increase the lead 4-1. Soyars then added an additional insurance run in the sixth. Egan led off the inning with a single. Mattituck intentionally walked Schmidt to pitch to Soyars who singled up the middle driving in Egan for his third RBI of the game.
With the win, the Mariners have now won their third county title since 2009 under Birdsall who was very pleased with his team’s accomplishment.
“It’s the biggest thrill,” he said. “I’m so happy for these kids because they’ve worked hard, you know, 365 doing everything. It’s the first team I’ve had that’s all baseball players, that’s their main focus. I’m just really happy for them.”