It might as well have been Tom Tenaglia Day at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic on Tuesday. After all, the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs pitcher did just about everything and was the player of the game on both the offensive and defensive ends.
Tenaglia hit his second home run of the season, drove in four runs, went 2 for 3 and tossed a four-hitter as McGann-Mercy opened its three-game Suffolk County League VIII baseball series against the Southold First Settlers with a 7-1 victory. The senior left-hander struck out eight and walked two in bringing his record to 2-0. It was impressive stuff.
“Not to overshadow that we played a great game behind him and our lineup produced, too, but yes, he was absolutely a standout, which is rare on a day where the whole team plays well,” said McGann-Mercy Coach Ed Meier.
Afterward, Tenaglia was asked if he is a better hitter or pitcher.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s tough to say.”
What isn’t tough to say is he was awfully effective. Tenaglia, whose 116-pitch effort included 67 strikes, said it was a matter of “just locating fastballs in and out, and the curveball was working.”
Tenaglia isn’t overpowering, but he is crafty.
“Not a knock on him, but he’s not blowing guys away with velocity,” Meier said. “He is getting by with velocity because he’s mixing up his pitches and getting strikes. He really pitched a heck of a game out there.”
McGann-Mercy (5-1, 3-1) started the game on the right foot. After Keith Schroeher (3 for 4) sprayed a single to right field and Pat Stepnoski looped a single over shortstop Darrin Standish, Tenaglia nailed a 2-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
The Monarchs tacked on three more runs in the second. Joe Crosser and Schroeher started that rally with singles. Later, Pat Stepnoski, a former Southold player, rapped a two-run single past Standish. Stepnoski then stole second base before scoring on Tenaglia’s sacrifice fly to deep center field. Center fielder Aidan Fogarty made a nice catch on the play, running back toward the fence, but his momentum prevented him from making a throw that would keep Stepnoski from scoring.
Ian Traynor made it 7-0 in the fifth. He reached base by knocking a single off reliever Fogarty’s leg. Crosser then drew a four-pitch walk. With two out, the Monarchs traded a run for an out. Crosser forced a throw and got caught in a rundown while Traynor raced across home plate.
Following a walk to the first batter he faced, Tenaglia retired the next eight batters before giving up the first Southold hit, a bad-hop infield single by C. J. Nicholas.
“We hit him pretty good, but their defense made some good plays,” Southold catcher Kyle Clausen said. “It’s baseball. You have to get lucky sometimes.”
Tenaglia lost his shutout bid when Zach Jobes slugged a solo homer, his first of the season, over the right-field fence in the fifth.
Stepnoski, Tenaglia and Traynor produced two hits apiece as McGann-Mercy totaled 12 hits, all singles except for Tenaglia’s round-tripper.
Southold (2-4, 2-2), meanwhile, saw a continuation of an uncharacteristic hitting slump.
“One through nine, we’re in a funk,” Southold Coach Mike Carver said. “What are you going to do? It’s no time to panic. We’re 2 and 2. Hitting will come. We can hit.”
McGann-Mercy hopes to keep its fine form. Although the Monarchs, like Southold, remain virtually unchanged in terms of personnel since last year, they are not the same team that went 9-10 and failed to reach the playoffs.
“It’s a testament to how much these guys have worked in the off-season, really,” Meier said. “These guys didn’t want that same feeling as last year, and they put in a lot [of work] and it’s helped.”
Tenaglia is one of those improved players. A reliever as a sophomore, he joined the starting pitching staff last year. This year he has supplemented his pitching repertoire, and it has made a difference.
“Physically he’s stronger and mentally he’s got a better approach,” Meier said. “He’s mixing up his pitches.”
Not only did Tenaglia pick up his second complete-game win, but the Monarchs played a complete game. That was all the more reason for Meier to smile.
He said, “Life would be great if it was all like this.”