The Center Moriches baseball team got defensive Monday afternoon.
The Red Devils held on for a 3-0 victory over Babylon at Moriches Athletics Complex in Suffolk VIII, sparked by a dominant performance in the field, including a big-time play by catcher Alec Maag.
Maag caught a called third strike for the first out in the top of the seventh, but the Red Devils (7-0) were still facing a potential Babylon (6-1) rally with the bases loaded. Maag then noticed the Panthers baserunner at third inching off the bag and threw to Dakota Hotaling for the pickoff.
Reliever Nathan Sigerson forced a grounder from the next batter and Center Moriches, collectively, exhaled.
“I noticed the kid was creeping off third, so I made a throw and got him out,” Maag said. “He was sleeping a bit and I tried to take advantage. It worked and that was a big play for us.”
Despite the late dramatics, Center Moriches was in control for much of the game thanks to the strong start by sophomore pitcher Jordan Falco. He threw six-plus innings, striking out five, and took a no-hitter into the top of the seventh, before allowing back-to-back hits.
“Everything was on and it was rolling,” Falco said. “I give it all to my fielders. They were getting some hard balls and they saved me out there.”
Center Moriches coach Dennis Donovan echoed Falco’s sentiment, adding that he was impressed by his pitcher’s willingness to rely on his fielders.
“One of his biggest strengths is he’s a bulldog and he lets our defense work,” Donovan said. “We have a very good defense and he’s not afraid to use them. He’s not going to go out there trying to strike everybody out.”
Center Moriches got on the board in the bottom of the third on Matt Alifano’s RBI single, but the Red Devils broke it open in the fifth. Falco and Corey Stengel both worked walks before scoring on Maag’s two-RBI single.
“My teammates did a great job of getting on base and setting the tone,” said Maag, who finished 2-for-3. “I got a good pitch and put a good swing on it.”
The Red Devils are, now, hoping to rely on their defense for the rest of the season, certain that their ability to make plays in the field will set them up for another deep playoff run.
“We don’t have athletes that just play baseball, we have guys that know the game,” Donovan said. “It’s an advantage we have over some other teams.”