By Rob Potter
LIVINGSTON MANOR Senior pitcher Brandon Smith tossed a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts on Wednesday afternoon to lead the Livingston Manor Wildcats to an 11-0 non-league victory over the visiting Margaretville Blue Devils.
Smith only allowed two base runners. He walked a batter in the top of the fifth inning and Margaretville’s Cody Fronckowiak reached base with two outs in the top of the sixth when he struck out but narrowly beat the throw from Manor catcher Dillon Taggart to first baseman Mike Mills.
While Smith pitched an excellent game, he appreciated all of the help from his teammates.
Margaretville’s Patrick O’Connell led off the top of the seventh inning by hitting a fly ball into shallow center field. Manor center fielder Chad Rosario sprinted in towards second base and made an outstanding sliding catch to preserve Smith’s bid for the no-hitter.
Smith then struck out the next two Blue Devils to end the game.
“I was jumping up and down hoping he would catch the ball,” Smith said of Rosario’s fine play in the outfield. “When he started to slide, I knew he had it.”
Smith noted that he lost some command on the walk he issued, which was on four straight pitches. But he quickly regained focus after that.
While the Manor players, coaches and fans were very happy for Smith, they were also pleased to see a second no-hitter in the span of just eight days. Back on April 12, Mills tossed a no-hitter with 17 strikeouts in an 18-0 non-league victory over the Eldred Yellowjackets.
“It’s really cool to have two pitchers on the same team with no-hitters, it doesn’t happen very often,” Smith said. “It’s just great.”
Smith noted that Taggart, who is an eighth-grader, caught both of the no-hitters.
After Monday’s 6-2 victory over Tuxedo in which Mills allowed only two hits and had 12 Ks and Wednesday’s win, the Wildcats improved their overall record to 4-3 on the young season.
“This was a great win for us today,” said Smith, who plans to play football at Hartwick College, an NCAA Division III school in Oneonta, this autumn. “We are going in the right direction now.”
Smith helped his own cause by going 3 for 4 with two runs scored and three RBIs.
Also leading the Manor offense were Mills, who was 3 for 4 with two RBIs, Ken Fisk (2 for 4, two RBIs) and Adam Hendrix (2 for 3, two runs scored).
Manor Coach Jeff Loeffler, who is in is fifth season of guiding the Wildcats, was very pleased with the performance by Smith.
“He was able to throw strikes and get ahead of batters,” Loeffler said.
“It’s cool to have two of our pitchers throw no-hitters this season,” Loeffler added. “We played a great game today.”
Loeffler noted that Smith also fielded his position well, as he had four assists.
The Wildcats were scheduled to scrimmage the Sullivan West Bulldogs yesterday. Next week, Manor and SW will play each other in two non-league games.
Loeffler noted that it was nice so many of the team members were able to play two games during this spring break week. He also credited their families for supporting the team this season.
The Wildcats’ season goal is to qualify for the Section IX Class D tournament and reach the state tournament.
“Our goal is to be playing baseball in June,” Loeffler said.
The loss was the first of the season for Margaretville (3-1), a Section IV Class D team from Delaware County. The Blue Devils won their three previous games in the Upper Delaware League.
“They played very well,” Margaretville Coach Rick Funck said of the Wildcats. “Their pitcher, Brandon Smith, did a great job. He is the best pitcher we have seen so far this season.”
Funck noted that he used four pitchers in the game to prepare for next week, when his team is slated to play four games. Ian Williams pitched the first two innings, Kyle Short pitched the third and fourth innings, Fronckowiak pitched the fifth and Jon Fairbairn, who was the catcher for the first five innings, pitched in the bottom of the sixth.
“They pitched pretty well,” Funck said. “Kyle Short pitched two shutout innings.”