Fireballers Ethan Nagy and Nick Laubach of the Central PA Mustangs tossed a perfect game.
By Rich Bevensee
It may not have been a collective sigh of relief emanating from the Rip City USA bench when Nick Laubach finished pitching, but no one would have blamed them if it was.
After Laubach authored three perfect innings primarily with his low 80s fastball, teammate Ethan Nagy took the mound, throwing even harder and just as accurately as Laubach.
Rip City couldn’t touch Nagy either.
The right-handed tandem from the Central PA Mustangs combined for a five-inning perfect game in a 9-0 victory in both teams’ pool play opener in the 16U Summer Finale on Friday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“They did an outstanding job tonight,” Mustangs coach Al House said. “Threw strikes, threw hard, stayed ahead in the count, a couple of defensive plays behind them. Real nice effort for them.
“And you know, in the next inning we were going to follow up with our lefty who throws as hard as Ethan. We pitched well all summer, to be honest. The bats didn’t always show up but our pitching was always there.”
The Mustangs continue pool play with a game against the Northern Connecticut Mustangs on Saturday at 2:15 p.m., and against Syracuse Sports Zone Black on Sunday at 8 a.m.
Rip City will try to bounce back with games against Syracuse Sports Zone Black on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. and against the Northern Connecticut Mustangs on Sunday at 8 a.m.
Laubach and Nagy, teammates at Loyalsock High, faced the minimum 15 batters and combined for 12 strikeouts – Laubach seven and Nagy five. Of the three Rip City batters to put the ball in play, Jake Woodsum and Tristain Denault managed to loft fly balls to the outfield and Jack Libucha grounded out.
Laubach, who threw 40 pitches in three innings, said he hadn’t thrown in two weeks but was hardly concerned about the layoff.
“I was a little tight today but other than that I felt good,” said Laubach, a 5-11, 180-pound rising senior who mixed a curveball and changeup with his fastball. “The fastball was throwing pretty good so I was sticking to that mostly. I was just hoping to find the strike zone early and it worked out for me.”
Nagy, a 6-2, 180-pound rising junior whose fastball dwelled in the low 80s, though he topped out at 86, used a curve and slider to keep Rip City batters honest, but it probably wasn’t necessary. He was coming off a weekend of no throwing after pitching at least once every weekend this summer.
“I didn’t get to throw my changeup today, but I’m not a big fan of the changeup when they’re late,” said Nagy, who charted 27 pitches in two innings. “It’s a good pitch if the top of the lineup gets around on the fastball. I like my slider and my curveball, because I dip it into the ground for two strike pitches. If I’m in a no-strike, one-strike count, I like to throw it at ‘em and put it in the strike zone.”
Between the two Mustangs hurlers, only four Rip City batters reached a three-ball count.
Nagy said House’s comment about having another hard-throwing pitcher in the bullpen just reinforces the fact that the Mustangs have a wealth of pitching, and will be tough to beat in a three-day tournament, especially since he and Laubach could come back for an inning or two in the playoffs on Sunday.
“Our pitching depth is great, man. We have a whole bunch of pitching,” Nagy said. “It’s good to save kids on Friday for Sunday, and it’s good to get a feel for the mound, and when the bats come, we win.”
Rip City’s Morgan McGibbney was equal to the task for three innings, holding the Mustangs scoreless while facing just one batter over the minimum. He struck out the side in the third.
In the bottom of the fourth inning was when the Mustangs finally figured out McGibbney. Aiden Everly and Quinn Ranck led off with singles to start the frame. Cole Shuler knocked in Everly with a single to right, Ethan Nagy drove in Ranck with a ground out, and Jansen Sarisky plated Shuler with a single to left for a 3-0 Mustangs lead.
Chinks in Rip City’s defensive armor was the Massachusetts-based club’s undoing in the fourth inning, as the Mustangs scored six runs without the benefit of a single base hit.
Laubach and Caleb Neidig led off by drawing walks against McGibbney. Scott Lundy came on in relief and promptly walked Derek Lambert to load the bases.
Rip City threw home for the force on Everly’s grounder but an error allowed Laubach to score. Shuler tapped an infield bouncer but Rip City’s throw to second was wide of the bag and Neidig scored. Then Lambert scored on a wild pitch, giving the Mustangs a 6-0 lead.
The final straw came with Logan Keiss at bat. A poor throw to first after a Keiss ground ball allowed Everly, Shuler and Sarisky to score, thereby ending the game via the mercy rule.
McGibbney allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in four innings. Lundy pitched ⅔ of an inning and allowed four runs (all unearned) on two walks with two strikeouts.