Hoffman two-hit gem sends Baltimore Redbirds to Memorial Day victory

By DN WRITING STAFF | May 27, 2024

The Redbirds’ Kosma Kosmas dives back to first as Bandits Mike Sabetta holds the bag.

By Rich Bevensee

In the process of watching his staff ace post zero after zero, 13U Baltimore Redbirds coach Craig Miller was trying to gauge if he was witnessing the best outing of the season.

Even after Mason Hoffman fell just shy of his second no-hitter, Miller was certain where the performance ranked – at the top.

Hoffman pitched 5⅓ innings of no-hit ball before allowing two straight singles. Without showing an ounce of emotion, he got a strikeout for the final out of the inning, then pitched a scoreless seventh to complete a 6-0 Redbirds pool play victory over the Bandits Baseball Club in the Memorial Day Classic on Sunday afternoon at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

“I was annoyed. I thought I was going to get a no-hitter today,” Hoffman said. “I wish I did, but it’s fine. We needed the win.”

Miller said the Redbirds entered the weekend as a .500 team but are playing like a different team right now. The win over the Bandits raised the Redbirds pool play record to 2-0-1. They also beat Trumbull Babe Ruth, 14-0, and the Highlands Travel Baseball Bulldogs, 9-3. 

The Redbirds complete pool play Monday at 10 a.m. against Diamond Jacks Super 13U in what is a win-and-you’re-in contest. Three pool winners advance, the semifinal is at 2:15 p.m. and the championship game is 4:30 p.m.

Miller has seen a number of terrific performances from the right-handed Hoffman, but that doesn’t mean any of them are less impressive than the next.

“I would say today is up there as far as one of our best games, and he’s thrown some gems, and I hope there’s a few more coming,” Miller said. 

“It’s unfortunate (about the no-hitter) but you know what? Every time out he gives us an opportunity. He’s one of our go-to guys.”

Hoffman, a 5-9, 145-pound righty, used a clever mix of his four-seam and two-seam fastballs with a curveball and circle change to register his 10 strikeouts. He allowed just the two hits in the sixth inning along with two walks and a hit batsman. Only one Bandit reached second base.

“I didn’t know I was starting until 30 minutes before the game, and I was just ready,” Hoffman said. “I knew probably around the second inning that I was going to have a good day. My stuff was working really well today.”

“I think what makes him effective is that he can throw multiple pitches for strikes, and he’s a gamer,” Miller said. “He’s a bulldog. He never shows emotion. You don’t know if he’s downside or upside, and that’s every game.”

Baltimore collected only five hits off a trio of Bandits pitchers, but the word of the day was opportunistic. The Redbirds pecked away for two runs in the top of the fourth inning when Jaxon Roberts scored on a balk and Remy Fong scored on a two-out throwing error. 

The Bandits ran into some pitching trouble in the fifth, walking the first five Redbirds batters of the inning. That made the score 4-0. Then leadoff hitter Jeremiah Martin’s sacrifice fly made it 5-0.

Roberts easily beat out an infield grounder to the hole at short, but when the throw went to first anyway and was high, it allowed Collin Miller to score from second for a 6-0 Redbirds lead. Roberts was the only player in the game to log multiple hits. He went 2-for-3 with a walk.

“We’re pretty good at running the bases, we’re aggressive, and if they give us a little bit in that regard we’ll take advantage of it,” Miller said. 

Patrick O’Grady was the Bandit who spoiled Hoffman’s no-hit bid with two out in the bottom of the sixth, lacing a clean single to left. Hunter Stys followed with another base hit, but they were left stranded after a Hoffman strikeout.

Bandits starter Nolan Pietros threw well for four innings. He allowed two runs on two hits and one walk and he struck out five. 

The Bandits fell to 1-1-1 with the loss and will wrap up pool play Monday at 10 a.m. against Trumbull.

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *