Michael Beavers pitched a perfect game for D1 Renegades on Thursday night.
Michael Beavers has been developing a curveball of late and unleashed his new weapon during a Diamond Nation High School Fall League game on Thursday night. The results, to say the least, were impressive.
While Beavers’ breaking ball is still in the developmental stage, the D1 Renegades’ lefthander had a breakout performance when he tossed a four-inning perfect game in a 10-0 mercy rule decision over the FBA Jays. Beavers struck out six in the gem.
“I was using mostly my fastball early on, went to the curveball in the third and fourth inning and it was working well,” said Beavers, a senior at Hunterdon Central High School. Beavers estimated he threw 10 curveballs in the last two innings. “I was just trying to stay consistent with it. I was throwing strikes.”
The Renegades ‘ focus was on assuring the mercy rule victory so Beavers and even his catcher, Tate LaFerrera, weren’t aware the pitcher had a perfect game in the works. “I didn’t know until my coach (Bill Malloy) told me when I walked off the mound after I struck out the last batter,” said Beavers. LaFerrera concurred: “It didn’t hit me. When coach said that’s a perfect game, I started thinking, hey, you know what, no one got on.”
Malloy liked what he saw from his lefty and the direction provided by his catcher.
“Michael is new to us this year and he’s been working hard to develop his curveball,” said Malloy. “It’s great to see his hard work pay off. He and Tate did a good job mixing up the pitches and working in the curveball in different counts.”
The perfect game, like most, wasn’t without a few precarious moments. In the second inning, an FBA Jays batter launched a shot into that left-center field gap that Malloy said, “looked like a sure double off the bat.” But center fielder Eli Berezny, a senior at Warren Hills High, made a fine running catch on the play. There was also a shot to left field in the third that gave the left fielder some trouble before it was hauled in.
“We went to a 3-0 count on a batter in the third or fourth inning,” said LaFerrera. “Mike’s command slipped a little but he got it right back to 3-2 then struck him out. For me that was big, seeing Mike come back like that.”
The perfect game was the first on Diamond Nation’s new Musclelicious Field and the first time the Renegades had an opportunity to play on the new diamond.
“The new field is outstanding,” said Malloy. “To me, a field is a field and I can play on dirt. But the kids’ faces lit up when they saw it. Honestly, we were really impressed by it.”
LaFerrera delivered two runs on a shot that got through the third baseman into left field to help out his batterymate further.
Beavers and LaFerrera became batterymates over the summer and LaFerrera remembers his pitcher’s first outing with the D1 Renegades. “I caught him once every week or so. I think this was his best outing. But the first game he pitched in the summer was really good, too. He only gave up two or three hits that time.
“Yesterday Mike had good command of his fastball early on,” said LaFerrera. “I know he wanted to work on his curveball and the fall is a great time for that. It looked really nice.”
Malloy sees a difference in Beavers’ curveball development even in the past week.
“It’s impressive where it came from, even from last weekend when he was working on it,” said Malloy. “It’s close to a 12-to-6 break with good bite. He’s getting a feel for it.”
The win improved the D1 Renegades record to 4-0-1 in Fall League play and moved the team into fifth place in the 13-team league. The team’s most impressive win this fall was a 3-2 victory over second place Hillsborough Sr. (8-2) on Oct. 5. The Fall League runs to Oct. 27 and is followed by playoffs. The FBA Jays are 4-6-1.