Coach Michael Bruno had a lot to think about as his senior co-captain and erstwhile center fielder, Tim DeGraw, tossed his warm-up pitches on the mound before the game with rival Harrison April 14.
By Mitch Silver
Coach Michael Bruno had a lot to think about as his senior co-captain and erstwhile center fielder, Tim DeGraw, tossed his warm-up pitches on the mound before the game with rival Harrison April 14. True, his Garnets had gone all the way to the State final in 2014, but graduation had robbed him of his mound mainstay, Luke Myerson, and his heavy-hitting shortstop, Griffin Tutin, along with several key role players.
The team hadn’t played their best during their spring break trip to Florida. And, while his returning pitching star, junior George Kirby, had thrown a 4-0 shutout against Tappan Zee on Opening Day, Bruno didn’t have a single lefthander on his 2015 squad — not in his rotation and not in his bullpen. One more worry: with DeGraw toeing the rubber, it meant he wouldn’t be using his lightning-fast wheels to patrol the outfield. Would shifting junior Tim Hale to center work?
A no-hitter takes care of a lot of worries. And that’s just what DeGraw came up with, as Harrison — a team that came into the game having scored 17 runs in their first two wins — whiffed time and again against DeGraw’s 86 fastballs, change-ups, and cutters.
It wasn’t what you’d call a tidy performance. There were a couple of walks, three hit batters and a wild pitch. But when he had to get an out, the Yale-bound DeGraw got it. He rang up five strikeouts, the fifth of which closed out the game.
And he had help behind him. Tim Hale had to make a diving shoe-top catch on the Huskies’ second hitter in the opening frame. In the 5th, second-sacker Brendan Cassano dove to his right to keep Harrison off the bases. Two batters later, sophomore Mat Bruno made an equally stellar catch on a sinking liner in left.
Meanwhile, DeGraw helped himself. After a walk and a hit batter in the 1st inning, he stole third and scored on Bruno’s sacrifice fly to right.
It was still 1-0 Rye in the home 5th when Hale was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, this time just above the elbow, and had to leave the game temporarily. Junior Drake Turcotte ran for him and, when co-captain Sam Lubeck and Ryan Ciardello both walked, he was dancing off third when Keith Secon’s sharp grounder went through the Huskies’ third baseman and into left, scoring him and Lubeck to make it 3-0.
Rye broke it open in the 6th. DeGraw’s two-hopper forced Brendan Cassano at second base. Too bad for Harrison. DeGraw stole second and then third, scoring when the catcher overthrew the third baseman. Two bases on balls meant Mat Bruno’s ringing single scored a brace of Garnets for a 6-0 lead. And when Bruno took second base on the play, he was able to head home on a Ciardello single, scoring with a nifty slide around the catcher.
So it was 7-0 when DeGraw took the mound to close out the game. He nearly didn’t, hitting the leadoff batter in the helmet. Then he uncorked a wild pitch that Lubeck corralled behind the plate before throwing out the pinch runner at second. Later DeGraw admitted, “I didn’t know where any of my pitches were going. I was just hoping for the best.”
In the dugout, Coach Bruno was hoping for the same thing. “If they’d gotten a hit off Tim, he was coming out.” But they didn’t get a hit. A groundout and then that final strikeout sealed the no-hit victory in the big rivalry game.