His contributions are many. If you ask every member of the Mattituck baseball team what makes sophomore centerfielder Joe Tardif so valuable, you'll get a variety of answers. He's that good.
Tardif was the offensive catalyst and added a defensive gem as Mattituck beat Wheatley, 9-2, in the Long Island Class B final / Southeast State Regional semifinal Friday at Farmingdale State.
Mattituck (21-3) will meet Rye in the state regional final at 2 p.m. Saturday at Mamaroneck High School.
Tardif went 4-for-5 with two stolen bases and two RBIs, and scored three times for the Tuckers. The leadoff man also made a spectacular running catch of a long drive off the bat of Wheatley MVP Billy McLean in the sixth inning.
"Joe makes it easy to pitch because you know he's going to catch everything in the air," Mattituck starter Cameron Burt said. "He contributes in so many ways. He's either tracking fly balls or stealing bases and getting our offense started. He does it all."
Burt was also impressive. He only allowed four hits, walked one and struck out six in a complete game. Wheatley struggled with Burt's dynamic curveball, as he struck out four looking on the pitch.
"It's a tough pitch when you haven't seen it," said Mattituck junior shortstop Marcos Perivolaris, who had a web gem of his own, robbing Tommy Gillette of a hit in the sixth.
Perivolaris reached on an error in the first inning and scored when Chris Dwyer slashed a double down the leftfield line for the 1-0 lead. The Tuckers added a run in the second when Will Gildersleeve singled, moved to second on a walk and scored on the first of Tardif's four hits.
Gildersleeve led off the fourth with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Webb and scored on another Tardif single. Tardif promptly stole second and went to third when the throw sailed into centerfield. He scored on Perivolaris' single to make it 4-0.
Wheatley (17-6) cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth when McLean lined a double and scored on Andrew Hastings' single. Hastings moved to second on the throw home and scored on Gillette's sacrifice fly.
Mattituck responded in the sixth inning with five runs, keyed by a James Nish two-run triple off the rightfield fence. Tardif, Perivolaris and Dwyer all singled and scored in the inning.
"It's about finishing the job," said Perivolaris, who will start Saturday's game on the mound. "We're not done."
Mattituck boarded the bus for the 60-mile drive home. They board the bus again tomorrow morning and trek 101 miles to Mamaroneck.
"The bus ride home will be fun and we'll enjoy it," Mattituck coach Steve DeCaro said. "And then we'll be ready again [today]."