Anthony Faggiano, left, and Justin Babiak combined to toss a no-hitter for Long Island Baseball.
By Sean Reilly
Justin Babiak enjoys the experience of playing games at Diamond Nation, in part because of the turf playing fields and outstanding competition.
On Thursday, the Long Island Baseball 2024 player added another reason for liking the complex in Flemington – it was the scene of a no-hitter in which he was the primary pitcher.
Babiak worked the first six innings, and Anthony Faggiano pitched the seventh and final frame as LIB closed out play at the 16U Garden State Invitational with a 4-0 decision over SE Elite Black, which hails from the Philadelphia area.
The victory completed a 3-1 week at Diamond Nation for LIB. Babiak struck out seven, walked three and hit two batters. Faggiano retired the side in order in the seventh.
“This was a great way to end the week,” Babiak said. “I haven’t pitched many games like this. It was a great confidence boost. It’s fun also playing here on the turf fields. It’s a good time.”
It didn’t take long for LIB to take a lead. With two out in the top of the first, Justin Alvarez walked, and then scored on a double to center field by Danny Psaki.
The lead was extended in the third. Jack Cohen coaxed a full-count walk with one out. He stole second and then scored when Isiah Gibbs reached on an error.
Long Island tacked on its other runs in the fifth. Sean Leonardo led off with a single to center field, and Chris Nell walked. A wild pitch advanced both into scoring position, and after a strikeout, Cohen hit a sacrifice fly to right field to make it a 3-0 game before the final run scored on a balk.
The LIB no-hitter was made possible by great defense, literally from the first out through to the last.
SE Elite’s Alex Doroshow led off in the first inning with a fly ball deep to the right field corner which was tracked down by a scrambling James Delgaudio. The next batter walked and was thrown out stealing by catcher Sean Leonardo.
In the third inning, a hit batter and walk gave SE Elite runners on first and second with one out. Jared Kligerman then ripped a liner that was caught by leaping second baseman Cohen, who threw to Alvarez at first for an inning-ending double play.
Babiak retired the final seven batters he faced, three of them by strikeout, before yielding to Faggiano in the seventh. The final defensive gem came on the last play of the game, as shortstop Dom Pannitti showed range and a strong arm to retire a batter on a ball hit up the middle.
“They gave me confidence with the way they played behind me,” Babiak said. “It was a combination of everything. I was getting the high fastball with the low curve, and working the count.”