The Southampton baseball team did what it needed to do in a three-game series with last-place Mercy last week, sweeping the Monarchs (1-11) to improve to 9-6 on the season in League VIII. The trio of wins meant the Mariners needed just one more victory to secure a spot in the Class B playoffs. Getting that win won’t be easy, however, as Southampton will need to find it in its final three-game set of the regular season, against first-place Mattituck (11-1).
The teams were scheduled to start their three-game set in Southampton on Tuesday, April 29, and were slated to play on the North Fork the following day before wrapping up the series in Southampton on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Southampton beat Mattituck to win the Suffolk County Class C Championship last season.
In the sweep of Mercy, the Mariners had both timely hitting and strong performances on the mound. Junior Garrett Pike was the headliner, tossing his first career no-hitter in a 3-0 home win on April 23. Pike struck out seven batters and walked two in seven innings. He’s the second member of the Pike family to toss a no-no this year, as his older brother, Mariner alum Chris Pike, has both a no-hitter and perfect game on his resume this season for Oklahoma City University. Chris Pike was a dominant pitcher for the Mariners when they won back-to-back Suffolk County and Long Island Championships in 2009 and 2010, and had numerous no-hitters in high school, but never as a junior, giving his younger brother a bragging-rights edge. Meanwhile, their other brother, freshman Chad Pike, has been the team’s leadoff batter and starting shortstop this season. He was 1 for 3 with an RBI to help his brother’s cause in the game-two win, while Kevin Edgar was also 1 for 3 with a run scored and Thomas Beckman was 2 for 2 with an RBI. Beckman drove in Edgar, who led off with a hit in the fourth inning, to provide the only run the Mariners would need that day. In the fifth inning, Chad Pike drove in Johnny Navan to give Southampton a 2-0 edge. Navan was pinch-running for Aiden Roughan, who got on base with a walk. Navan advanced to second after a pick-off attempt at first base, and head coach Gary Pike said that Navan’s speed enabled him to score on Chad Pike’s hit to centerfield. Navan had to hesitate to make sure the ball wasn’t caught in the outfield before dashing for home.
“Seventy-five percent of kids wouldn’t have scored in that position,” Coach Pike said of Navan. “He’s really fast.”
As for his son’s no-hitter, Coach Pike said that while he was aware Garrett was putting in a strong performance on the mound, the game progressed so quickly that neither he nor anyone else on the team had too much time to overthink it.
“I asked Garrett after the game if he was nervous and he said the game went so quick, it only felt like the fourth or fifth inning when it was over,” Coach Pike said. He added that he’s seen improvement from the entire Mariner pitching staff as the season has gone on, as his son and fellow starters Beckman and David Kirshy have started to limit walks and throw more pitches for strikes. When asked if there was a Pike family pitching secret that has led to success in the past few years for his sons, Coach Pike said no.
“It’s just hard work,” he said, referring to offseason training, workouts and pitching lessons that both his son and a few other players on the team have made a priority. “At the same point [in their high school careers], Garrett worked even harder than Chris had. And he learned some stuff that worked for Chris or didn’t work for Chris.”
The Mariners didn’t need dominant pitching performances in their other wins over the Monarchs. In a 13-3 win at Mercy to open the series on April 22, they did damage with their bats. Eddie McLaughlin led the charge, blasting two homers and a double for a total of six RBIs on the day, and he also had a walk. Kirshy was 1 for 2 with a homer, 2 RBIs and 2 walks, while Garrett Pike was 3 for 4 with a double, Chad Pike was 2 for 5 with 2 doubles, Edgar was 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs, and Jake Marano was 2 for 5. Beckman got the win, going four innings with seven strikeouts, two hits and one walk. Coach Pike brought in Nick Knoebel for the final innings, a move made to save Beckman’s arm for later in the series, since Southampton had a commanding lead at that point. The coaching strategy paid off in the final game, a 9-4 win at Mercy on April 25. The teams were tied at 4-4 going into the final inning when McLaughlin hit a three-run homer with one out to drive in the winning runs, starting a five-run rally. Beckman came on in relief, going three innings with four strikeouts, one hit and no walks to keep his team in the game.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Tuesday, 4/29, vs. Mattituck, 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 4/30, at Mattituck, 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 5/2, vs. Mattituck, 4:30 p.m.; Monday, 5/5, at Smithtown Christian (non-league), 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 5/7, vs. Smithtown Christian (non-league), 4:30 p.m.