One of the few moments of hardship Patch Dooley faced on the mound defined his baseball season.
After the Half Hollow Hills East senior pitcher allowed a home run to Smithtown East’s Andrew Canino in the fourth inning of the first game of the season, he followed with two pitches in the dirt. Dooley stepped off the mound, gathered his thoughts and regained his composure.
“I thought about if we’re going to win this game, I’m going to have to shut them down from here,” Dooley said. “I just build off that and it paid off.”
Dooley carried the success of his first start throughout the season and was awarded the Paul Gibson Award as Suffolk’s top pitcher on Tuesday.
The home run was the only hit Dooley allowed that Wednesday afternoon. He tossed a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts, striking out 11 of the final 12 batters he faced, to lead Hills East to a 2-1 win. The homer was one of only four earned runs he allowed all year.
“That’s when I knew he was going to be special the whole year,” coach Tim Belz said. “That’s what set us off. We knew what we were going to be this year because of him.”
Dooley led the Suffolk League III champions with a 7-0 record, 0.70 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. He recorded 70 strikeouts in 40 innings and finished his three-year varsity tenure with a 15-4 record and 191 strikeouts.
“It feels really special, honestly,” said Dooley, who goes by the nickname Patch, given to him by his mother as a young child. “I wasn’t really thinking about it during the season though, I was just trying to win games for my team.”
Dooley was dominant from the start for the Thunderbirds, finishing the season with two one-hitters and a no-hitter against Copiague on April 12.
“It was fun to watch him just get stronger and stronger each game,” Belz said. “And when he was completely in control, he was unhittable.”
Dooley, who will pitch at Division I College of Charleston, said he loves the power and control that comes with standing on the mound. And Belz called Dooley “one of the toughest kids we’ve ever had on the mound.”
But Dooley is most proud of being able to help deliver Hills East a league championship — its first since 2007, Belz said.
“It’s a great way to leave,” Dooley said. “And I’m glad people are going to remember our senior year as how great we did.”