Baseball: Mattituck sophomore delivers clutch hit for extra-inning playoff win

Now that’s something one doesn’t see often — or even hardly ever. A seven-player infield!

With the game on the line, the Elwood/John Glenn baseball team positioned seven players in the infield, leaving only one player in the outfield. One didn’t have long to take notice of the highly unusual alignment. It lasted for only one pitch.

Facing a crowded infield, Mattituck sophomore Michael Mowdy did the smart thing, socking the first pitch he saw from reliever Joe Patane to leftfield for a bases-loaded, walk-off hit in the eighth inning Tuesday at Mattituck High School. The 2-1 extra-inning victory in the Suffolk County Conference V outbracket game extended the fourth-seeded Tuckers’ life in these single-elimination playoffs. They earned themselves a semifinal place Wednesday at No. 1 Mount Sinai (16-2), the League V champion.

“Amazing,” a happy Mowdy said. “We get to play tomorrow.”

Brady Mahon led off the eighth for Mattituck (12-7) by clocking a double to the centerfield fence. Following an intentional walk to Andrew Berman and Max Geppel’s sacrifice bunt, Burke Evers was intentionally walked to load the bases. That’s when Glenn coach Matthew Roccio rolled the dice and went with the seven-player infield against Mowdy.

What was Mowdy’s thought process at that point?

“I just didn’t think anything,” he said. “There’s not much time to think, and so you just hit the ball.”

Simple as that.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” said Dan O’Sullivan, who gained his first playoff win in his first playoff game as Mattituck’s coach. “That was one of the craziest baseball games I’ve ever seen, with a crazy set of seven infielders.”

After the winning hit, Mowdy was tackled by joyous teammates between first and second bases.

Starting pitcher Connor Fox. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Asked what was on his mind when Mowdy delivered the decisive hit, Mattituck’s starting pitcher, Connor Fox, said: “Truthfully, there was nothing in my mind other than just true happiness. We get to live another day, so there’s nothing more you can ask for.”

Mowdy said he wasn’t distracted by the sight of seven Knights crowding the infield. If anything, he believed the positioning worked in his favor, making it “a lot easier because now you’re not aiming for anything, you’re just hitting the ball.” He said, “I was like, if I put it anywhere in the outfield, it’s going to drop.”

The speedy Mowdy takes a .327 batting average, with a home run, five doubles, 21 runs scored and 20 walks into Wednesday’s game. He’s an excellent defender, who covers a lot of ground. He made six catches Tuesday.

“He’s been amazing in the field all year,” said O’Sullivan.

Fox was on, too, equaling his season-best with 11 strikeouts. The senior righthander gave up five hits and four walks in six-plus innings before he was relieved by Garrett Grathwohl (3-2, 1.05 ERA), whose off-speed pitches had good movement. Fox was charged with Glenn’s run from Brian Morgan’s sacrifice fly in the seventh.

“When he’s on, he’s the best pitcher in this league,” Mowdy said of Fox.

O’Sullivan said Fox, who threw 108 pitches, has been clocked at 88 mph. “Connor Fox, you just don’t have to worry about him,” O’Sullivan said. “You just know he’s a bulldog. He didn’t want to come out at the end. I could have kept him in, but just as much as I trust him, I trust Garret. I knew if I put him in in a big spot, he would get us out of it.”

Nate Demchak hits a double to center. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Sure enough, Grathwohl managed to escape big trouble not once but twice as Glenn (8-11) left the bases loaded in both the seventh and eighth innings. With the bases full in the seventh, he retired three straight batters. Then, after one-out singles by Anthony Schieble and Cole Lindquist in the eighth, Grathwohl fanned Louis Pelkofsky on a nasty 12-to-6 knuckle drop. Timmy Browne then walked to load the bases before Grathwohl induced a Morgan flyout.

Mattituck gained a 1-0 edge in the second when Evers dropped a two-out RBI single into right-centerfield after Mahon became one of three Tuckers to be hit by pitches and Berman rolled an infield single.

Mattituck has swept all three of its games against Glenn this year, but the Tuckers have lost both of their regular-season games against Mount Sinai. O’Sullivan said Nate Demchak, who caught Tuesday, will reverse roles with Fox Wednesday.

“Baseball,” Mowdy said, reflecting on the craziness of the game. “I mean, you can win a game, 2-1, and you can win a game, 12-1. You know, anything can happen.”

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