A junior leads the way on Senior Night
On a night when seniors were being honored, it was a junior who stole the spotlight.
St. Mary's varsity baseball player Adam Bieber, a 6-3 left-handed pitcher, did the extraordinary on May 3. He pitched a no-hitter, beating conference rival St. Dominic High School 4-1. Even though he gave up a run, the ever-so-rare "no-no" is pretty special in any circumstance.
It didn't look good in the first when the St. Dominic Crusaders, then ranked seventh in small schools, started with a man on second base on an error by left fielder Justin Crump on a high pop up into a tough wind drifting the ball toward the foul line hit by lead-off hitter Jake Forbeck. After a comebacker for the first out and a walk to St. Dominic's leading hitter, Frank Recca (.516 batting average), Bieber and the St. Mary's Dragon defense found themselves in a one-out, first-and-third situation, which on most days would lead to one run, if not more. But the lanky lefty wasn't having it! Bieber struck out their number four and five hitters, seniors Matthew Achepohl (.333 BA) and Jacob Wehde (.387 BA) respectively.
With the wind being a factor all game long, center fielder Jeremy Behnen dove forward on his belly to make an underrated play on a sinking line drive just in front of him for the first out of the second inning. Bieber then retired the next five Crusaders in a row.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Dragon offense went to work.
The number-seven hitter, Crump, redeemed his earlier blunder with a lead-off walk. Bieber helped himself with a line-drive single in which a hustling Crump moved over to third base. In the nine slot in the batting order, senior catcher Jeff Goodman delivered a great sacrifice bunt to make it second and third with one out, setting the stage forKevin Hennessy to do his thing. The junior shortstop, tied for the team lead in RBIs (11), hit a fly ball in the gap for a double to score both Crump and courtesy runner Brandon Polito. This gave the Dragons a two-run lead and the first-year varsity letterman on the pitching mound a little breathing room.
In the top of the fourth, Bieber found nd himself in trouble for the last time. The lead-off hitter in the inning once again made his way to second base with nobody out. After a walk to Frank Recca, St. Dominic's No.3 hitter, Bieber tried to take care of his own mistake with a pick-off move that has baffled teams all season long. The left-handed pitcher threw it over his first baseman's head and the runner got to second. The next batter hit a chopper to third, and the runner moved up.
St. Dominic's scored their only run on a wild pitch above catcher Jeff Goodman's head, spoiling the shutout. Bieber then settled down, striking out the next hitter and getting the third out on another deceptive pop up nearly dropping in the Bermuda Triangle in short center field. With the ball slicing back toward the infield, second baseman Matt Causino was there waiting to make the catch.
With the score 2-1 and no breathing room for the hurler, a senior would make his presence known in the bottom of the sixth. First baseman Colin McDonough hit a one-out line drive down the right field line. If it had not been for the pesky wind, it might have left the yard, but instead the powerful McDonough would have to settle for a double. St. Dominic' got senior right fielder Joe Maassen on a pop to center field and the stage was set.
With two outs, Coach Marko Samardzic called on Mr. Clutch, Joe Ross to pinch hit and delivered. Ross, a sophomore, hit a soft liner just barely out of reach of the jumping Crusader second baseman. McDonough came around to score, and the Dragons had a little insurance. But they weren't finished. No. 6 hitter Behnen hit a dribbler in front of the third baseman. Bare handing it, the third sacker heaved it over the head of St. Dominic's first baseman, and the race for home was on.
Ross, running on contact, came all the way around huffing and puffing from first base to score. Behnen ended up on third base before Crump ended the inning on a pop up to the pitcher.
Being only three outs away from ending the game and Bieber still looking pretty fresh in spite of having thrown 90 pitches, the coaches had no doubts about leaving him in the game. But it would not be easy having to face St. Dominic's four, five and six hitters in the lineup. Achepohl swang at the first pitch, hitting a major-league pop up which looked at first glance to be surely out of play near third base. At first glance is the key. With the wind making its mark again, the ball started gradually coming back to foul territory. With the ball landing just outside the fence line, St. Mary's third baseman Thomas Garcia, who had a bead on it the entire time, leaped over the fence to get the first out.
The St. Mary's coaching staff said it might have been one of the best catches they have ever seen in high school baseball. With the reassuring confidence of his defense, Bieber then struck out Wehde and get Imperiale to pop up to left field.
Bieber ended the game having thrown approximately 105 pitches, a complete game (seven innings), one unearned run, eight strikeouts, two walks, one wild pitch and one batter who reached on error. He faced just 24 batters.
This article was provided by St. Mary's High School.
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