Big arms guide BPC to season opening win in Super 15U Invitational

By Bob Behre | July 20, 2020

Lefty C.J. Furey, righty Duke McCarron and righty Joel Thompson combined on a one-hitter for BPC.

Duke McCarron, C.J. Furey and Joel Thompson provided the real heat at Diamond Nation on a hot July Monday morning when they combined on a one-hitter to steer Baseball Performance Center to a season opening 3-1 victory over Bell Ringers Baseball in the Super 15 Invitational.

That trio of arms combined to strike out 14 Bell Ringers Baseball batters while walking four in a briskly played pitchers duel on Field 1. Meanwhile, Bell Ringers pitchers Hudson Narke and Nate Fisher threw well, too, limiting BPC to three hits and all three runs they allowed were unearned. The Bell Ringers’ pitchers combined to strike out seven and walk two.

“It certainly makes my job a lot easier,” said Baseball Performance Center’s coach Chris Oakley, addressing his pitchers’ 14-strikeout performance. “This is all about showcasing our pitchers’ stuff.” Oakley had his pitchers on a short lease, though. McCarron, a rising righty sophomore at Ocean City High and a Maryland commit, threw just 54 pitches in his four innings of work.

“It’s more than just pitches, it’s how stressful those pitchers are, too,” said Oakley.

McCarron’s only stress came in his last inning. He plunked Trey Tiffan with one out then walked Bobby Kleckner with two outs. But he ended his outing by inducing a grounder to the right side. McCarron throws in the mid-80s and has touched 86 but he did get off to a rocky start in the first inning.

“I just had to take a deep breath and get it together,” said McCarron. “I was working off my fastball and using my slider.” He also threw some changeups to keep the Bell Ringers batters honest.

BPC’s Joe Sheeran works a walk in the seventh inning of his team’s 3-1 victory over Bell Ringers Baseball.

The Bell Ringers, based in Newton Square, Pa., would get their only run in the first inning and their only hit in the second. Narke drew a leadoff walk, stole second and came around on consecutive wild pitches by McCarron. McCarron’s fastball had a lot of run early on and his catcher, Kyle Leiser, did a nice job adjusting to his batterymate.

McCarron was in full command from there, striking out two batters in the first inning, two more in the second and he fanned the side in order in the third. He threw a strike-three changeup, fastball and a slider in the dirt to his three victims that impressive inning.

McCarron would leave the game with a 3-0 lead aided by a couple Bell Ringers miscues.

Ryley Betts, BPC’s No. 9 hitter, got it going in the third with a leadoff bloop single into shallow right field. Betts stole second and came all the way around on an infield throwing error to tie the game at 1-1. 

Sheeran reached with two out in the fourth on an infield throwing error before Thompson hit a shot just left of second base that went for two bases and chased Sheeran to third. It appeared the Bell Ringers may have gotten out of the inning, though, when Connor Boham lofted a long fly ball to right. But the ball kept drifting and it was misplayed into three bases and two more BPC runs.

Joel Thompson, who closed out BPC’s victory, gets good wood on the ball but lines out to shortstop.

In fairness, the Field 1 right field is notoriously difficult under a high and bright sky, such as the outfielders faced on Monday.

The 3-0 BPC lead loomed large with McCarron locked in and Oakley prepared to unleash a fresh pen against the Bell Ringers. McCarron allowed one run on one hit, struck out eight, walked two and hit a batter.

Next up was Furey, who did not waste many pitches in striking out the Bell Ringers in order in the fifth. He picked up two more strikeouts in the sixth around a walk to Narke. Then came Thompson in the seventh when the Bell Ringers would get the tying run on and bring the potential winning run to the plate.

Kleckner drew a one out walk then Matt Tsiaris lifted a high pop into the sun behind second base that was gloved but dropped safely as Kleckner moved to second. Mike Happersett got his barrel on a fastball from Thompson but the loud shot landed harmlessly in the glove of the left fielder Sheeran for the second out. Thompson then reared back and closed out the victory with three straight strikes and BPC’s 14th strikeout of the game.

“It was my first real outing,” said McCarron. “But I felt pretty good.”

Oakley was certainly pleased with his staff in the team’s opener. “We’re a training center, so we have access to them all year. We get to work with them directly and take care of their arms. It was a clean game. They have different profiles of pitches. It’s a different mix. You start with Duke, a righty, then go to C.J., a lefty, and finish with Joel, a righty.”

BPC, based in Pleasantville, N.J., will be back on Tuesday morning at Jack Cust Baseball Academy for an 8 a.m. game against Legkick Nation. Bell Ringers return at 8 a.m. Tuesday, too, for a game against New Jersey Rising Rebels on Field 4.

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