Nate Ullman (1-for-2, RBI, run) of Hustle Baseball 17U eyeballs a low pitch during Fall League quarters.
Righthander Ryan Spaar pitched a four-inning no-hitter and the Hustle Baseball Academy 17U bats erupted for nine hits to make quick work of the Go The Distance Bulldogs, 11-0, in the Fall League quarterfinals last night at Diamond Nation.
Spaar, a junior at Millburn, struck out three, walked one and threw just 48 pitches while limiting Go The Distance to two baserunners. Will Warman drew a one-out walk in the top of the first but was erased on a 4-6-3 double play. And Brian Reuter reached on an infield error leading off the second but was stranded at second when Spaar retired the next three batters in order.
So, Spaar would face just one batter over the minimum.
“I was working the fastball all game,” said Spaar, “and I was getting swings up in the zone.” He also threw a few well-spotted curveballs.
Hustle Baseball 17U, the No. 3 seed, advanced to the Fall League semifinals and will face 7th-seeded Montgomery Superior, a 5-0 winner over Morris County Cubs 16U. Montgomery’s Eddie Appollina (North Hunterdon) very nearly pitched a no-hitter himself in that quarterfinal game, allowing just a one-hitter on an infield hit in the fifth.
The other semifinals pits top-seeded Whitehouse Post 284 and fourth-seeded Bucks County Generals. Both semifinals are at 6 p.m. and the championship game follows at 8 p.m. on Field 1.
It was a leisurely no-hitter for Spaar who was presented with a 4-0 lead after an inning and a 10-0 lead after two frames. In fact, Spaar was a bit in the dark about the whole thing.
“I really wasn’t sure (about the no-hitter) until somebody said something in the dugout when we were batting in the bottom of the third,” he said. “Then, I’m thinking, oh boy, now I’m going to lose it.”
Spaar, in fact, retired the last nine batters he faced in order, peppering the zone with strikes and making his pitch count a non-factor.
“Ryan hadn’t thrown that much this fall, except when I spotted him in there a few times,” said Hustle Baseball coach Matt Rago. “I have gotten him in there a few times recently. He really came up big, both with the complete game and limiting his pitches. That was outstanding. It did set us up a little better pitching-wise for (Wednesday night).”
Spaar even chipped in with a double and scored in the middle of the second inning rally. He also walked and scored in the third inning.
But the bats were lively as a whole for Hustle Baseball, which also received an RBI grounds rule double in the first and an RBI single in the second from its No. 5 hitter Brayden Peoples (Wayne Valley).
“I was seeing the ball very well tonight,” said Peoples. “I hit two fastballs on two-strike pitches.” The first was a blast that bounced over the fence in left field and brought Mike Kelly home with the game’s first run. His single to center in the second capped the six-run rally.
Aiden Pichardo had the entertaining hit of the game in the second inning. His single to center was misplayed as Pichardo raced around the bases, capping it off by diving safely across home plate.
Peter Poloso, the Hustle cleanup hitter, walked and singled and scored twice. Nate Ullman singled in a run in the first and scored. Andrew Hladik and Jacob Gonzalez both delivered an RBI single and scored in the second. Kevin Wood had an RBI single in the first and Enzo D’Agostino, the No. 11 hitter, singled in the third.
In fact, nine of 11 Hustle Baseball batters had at least one hit and scored at least one run.
“Our bats were alive tonight,” said Peoples. “We just hit right through the lineup.”
Said Rago, “We needed a lot of guys to step up in meaningful ways and they did.”
Go The Distance won its first round game earlier Tuesday night, edging Hustle Baseball 16U, 5-3.