Garcia, Sarrubbo no-hitter carries Double Major to 12U title

By Bob Behre | May 20, 2024

Gabe Garcia and Joe Sarrubbo were lights out on the mound, second baseman Mason Santangelo was a human highlight reel and Double Major Black used some timely hits to secure the 12U Spring Fever championship last night at Diamond Nation.

Double Major needed all of that to overcome a terrific Severna Park Green Hornets club and secure a 6-0 victory that never looked out of hand.

Garcia, who also had a single and a double from his leadoff spot in the Double Major order, allowed just one baserunner in his four innings of sterling work. He shut out Severna on no hits, struck out six and walked one. Sarrubbo closed out the no-hitter with two tidy innings of hitless relief. He struck out four and walked none.

Jeremy Fener drew a one-out walk off Garcia in the third and Mateo Maese reached on a throwing error against Sarrubbo with one out in the fifth. That was it for the normally lethal Severna lineup.

“I was just attacking with fastballs,” said Garcia. “I threw some curveballs in there to keep their timing off.” Garcia’s fastball was live and noisy. The Double Major staff is guided by coach Carlos Ruiz, an outstanding pitcher himself at both South Plainfield High and Rowan University.

“It looked like our pitchers had a little extra going for them in the finals,” said Ruiz. And neither pitcher had any trouble harnessing that adrenaline.

Santangelo, showing remarkable range for his age on those pesky tweener pop-ups to the right side, hauled in two flares on a dead run and snared a hot liner off the bat of Luke Zimmerman for the third out of the fifth inning.

“We tell our guys that if they want the baseball they have to go get the baseball,” said Double Major head coach Ray Navarette, who played 14 seasons of professional ball. Navarette is a local legend in the Garden State, courtesy of outstanding careers at both Marlboro High School and Seton Hall University before reaching the Triple-A level with the Mets.

Double Major manufactured the first run of the game when John Espin scored on the back end of a double steal attempt in the top of the first inning. Mason Vindman had started things with a one-out single to right . field before Espin drew a walk.

Sarrubbo then reached on a throwing error, but alert Severna first baseman Will Viera fired home to nail Vindman trying to score all the way from second base on the play. Double Major then tried to pull off the double steal attempt and it was partly successful. The throw went down to second and shortstop Cooper Bullough fired to first to retire the retreating Sarrubbo for the third out. But Espin had already crossed the plate with the game’s first run.

Double Major then utilized the bottom of its batting order to string four of the five hits it accumulated in the third inning as the South Plainfield program struck for four runs.

Matt Silver, the No. 8 hitter, started the rally with a leadoff double to left-center. Patrick Burns singled Silva to third before Cole Gustafson’s fielder’s choice bouncer to the right side brought home a run.

Jake Zerecinski then dropped a pop up inside the left field line for a one-out RBI single. Trevor Kolby, the No. 12 hitter, followed with a single to right to deliver the third run of the inning and boost the Double Major lead to 4-0. The lineup flipped to the top and Garcia capped the rally with an RBI single to right-center.

Double Major tacked on an unearned run in the fourth after Mateo Matusz reached on an infield error with one out. Matusz, named the 12U tournament’s MVP for hitting three home runs and playing stelar defense in the tournament, came around on Santangelo’s double to the left-center field gap.

Severna coach Pete Buck singled out Garcia and Sarrubbo in the post-game, saying, “That’s the best two pitchers we’ve seen. We feel like we can swing it and you guys shut us down.”

For a team that was no-hit and lost 6-0, credit Severna for staying in the game and never looking deterred. The team from Maryland also made some heady plays on defense.

“You can tell they are a well-coached team because they are so fundamentally sound,” said Navarette of Severna. “They stayed right with us. They were impressive.”

NOTES: This was not Garcia’s first flirtation with a no-hitter. “I got one by myself last year when I was playing for the South Plainfield Knights,” he said.

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