Dennis Mulhearn paced Wladyka Continental 16U with a triple, single and three RBI.
By Rich Bevensee
Players sometimes get into a rhythm where everything is going right, but “groove” doesn’t begin to describe the kind of success Ryan Auten has enjoyed the last two weeks on a baseball field.
Last week the 6-foot-3 lefthander pitched a complete game one-hitter with 12 strikeouts in a USABL contest for Wladyka Continental 16U. This week he upped the ante.
Mixing a fastball, curveball and slider which completely mystified PPH Mafia hitters for five innings, Auten whiffed 12, including the last 10 he faced to put the finishing touches on a five-inning no-hitter while Wladyka rolled to a 10-0 victory in the 16U Fall Harvest Tournament on Friday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“That was as picture perfect as it comes,” Wladyka coach Mike Abate said. “He had everything working. He had a nice mix going, and at the end there, that was fitting to get that last strikeout.”
“I block out all the other noise, so I don’t focus on how many strikeouts I have or how many batters have hits,” Auten said. “I don’t focus on that. I just attack and do my job.”
Auten, a freshman at Delaware Valley, needed just 66 pitches to silence the Mafia bats. Auten allowed just one Mafia batter to reach base, when Xavier Radicil earned a walk in the second inning.
“I attacked with the fastball and when I got ahead I threw mostly curveball and slider,” Auten said. “I didn’t throw the change much but that’s usually one of my better pitches. I saw they were behind everything, and if they were on my fastball I’d go to my curve.”
What’s more, Auten allowed just three batters to put the ball in play. That resulted in a fly out, an infield line drive and a groundout.
Dennis Mulhearn, a freshman at Don Bosco, joked that he and his fellow Wladyka fielders are getting bored watching Auten dominate the opposition.
“I haven’t made a play in like two weeks when he’s been on the mound,” Mulhearn said. “I need some action out there.”
Auten came into the Mafia game with a gem of a performance in his last appearance on the hill. He pitched a one-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts in five innings for Wladyka in a USABL contest against the Zoned Redhawks.
“From the time I’ve had with me he’s been great,” said Abate, who took over the Wladyka 16U team for the fall season. “The great thing is he gets better and better with every outing. The best part of Ryan is his composure and the way he sets the tone from the first inning on.”
Mulhearn led the Wlaydka offense by going 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBI. Mulhearn led seven Wlaydka batters in driving in runs, while he and Ben Kronfield both had two hits.
“I’ve improved a lot from my spring season,” Mulhearn said. “In the beginning of the year I was looping my backside so I wasn’t producing any power, and I’ve corrected that. My hands are more direct now, and I’m hitting the ball everywhere recently. I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself.”
Wlaydka led 2-0 when they sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth inning and scored seven runs on seven hits. After loading the bases on two hits and a walk, Joey Fiore got the rally started by forcing home a run with a walk. Enzo Gurijala followed with an RBI groundout.
Leadoff man Keigo Fujita belted a grounds rule RBI double, Mulhearn had a two-run single and Kyle Watson added an RBI single. Frank Orrei capped the seven-run surge with a sacrifice fly.
Kuhn ensured the game would end via the 10-run mercy rule when he accounted for Wladyka’s 10th run with a bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning.
Jim Mosser pitched 3⅔ innings for PPH Mafia, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits and three walks with one strikeout. Marco Giambrowe pitched 1⅓ innings and yielded a run on one hit, three walks and a hit batsman.