Baseball – Barnegat’s Groome, Liberty’s Pickus Throw Monday No-Hitters
With a potential multi-million-dollar payday from a Major League organization in his near future, the safest thing for Barnegat senior left-hander Jason Groome to do was to follow the usage plan mapped out by his coaches a representation and give up the ball after the sixth inning Monday against Central Regional.
Instead, he told head coach Dan McCoy that he wanted a chance to finish the best outing of his amateur career and McCoy was happy to oblige.
Groome struck out the side for the fifth time in the seventh inning to complete his and first career no-hitter and pitch the Bengals to a 6-0 win over the Golden Eagles. Groome matched a career-high with 19 strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
"I was going to take him out," McCoy said. "I said to him after the sixth, 'You're done. Great game.' And Jay doesn't usually show a whole lot of emotion. He's usually, 'Yes, coach,' but he looked (mad). I asked him, 'What's the matter, do you want to finish?' and he said, 'Yeah, I do.' So I said, 'Okay, it's all your's. Get out there.'"
Central's only baserunner of the game reached on an error to lead off the top of the third inning and Groome promptly picked him off at first base. The only other batter to put the ball in play flew out to left field in the fourth inning. Groome then retired the final 11 batters on strikeouts.
"Obviously, he threw the ball great today," McCoy said. "The scary thing is as the weather warms up, he's going to throw the ball even better."
According to a number of radar guns, Groome's fastball ranged from 90-to-95 miles per hour during the game and one had him at 94 miles-per hour in the seventh inning.
Groome struck out the side in order in the first, second, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Senior third baseman Jared Kacso made the error that led to the lone Central baserunner, but made up for it by going 4-for-4 with three doubles and three RBI at the plate. Junior Justin Diefenbach added an RBI single in the win.
Not only did Monday mark Groome's first no-hitter, but it was also the first no-hitter in the history of the Barnegat program. Groome struck out 19 in a one-hitter for IMG Academy last year.
Jackson Liberty sophomore no-hits Donovan Catholic
Making his second career start, Jackson Liberty sophomore right-hander Matt Pickus spun a no-hitter in Jackson Liberty's 7-0 win over Donovan Catholic on Monday.
Pickus lost his first career start against Manchester last week, but bounced back by throwing the first no-hitter in the young history of the Jackson Liberty program. The 6-foot-2 hurler needed only 69 pitches to get through his seven innings and walked just one batter while striking out seven.
"He was a strike-throwing machine today," Jackson Liberty coach Jim Rankin said. "He was locating all three of his pitches - fastball, curveball and his changeup."
The Lions defense backed Pickus up in the field in the seventh inning and made only one error over the course of the game. Freshman second baseman Daniel Sofield made a diving stop to his left and fired to first to retire Nick DeMaio for the first out of the seventh.
Pickus then induced another ground ball out for the second out and nailed down the no-hitter when shortstop Ryan Van Wickle secured a lineout for the 21st and final out.
Senior Brandon Pallante went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI at the plate, while sophomore catcher Billy Hart drove in three runs to lead the Lions offense.
Monday's no-hitters by Pickus and Groome make that four Shore Conference no-hitters in the first week-and-a-half of the season - all four of which were seven-inning no-hitters. Mater Dei senior Joe Ruth no-hit Keyport on opening day and Toms River South senior Trevor Wagner no-hit Toms River North on Thursday.
Chiusano loses no-hitter in the seventh
Freehold Borough junior left-hander Dan Chiusano nearly made it three Shore Conference no-hitters on Monday before surrendering and infield hit to lead off the seventh inning. Chiusano shook off the lone hit of the game and closed out a complete-game victory in the Colonials' 4-0 win over No. 5 Colts Neck.
Chiusano struck out 10, walked one and was an infield hit by senior shortstop Tim Cavrak away from his first career no-hitter.
Junior Tom Holdorf went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI and senior Ryan Yee tripled home a run in the second inning.