Baseball – TR South’s Trevor Wagner Fires a No-Hitter Against Toms River North
TOMS RIVER - Toms River South coach Ken Frank describe senior Trevor Wagner's first two years on the mound as a varsity pitcher as a series of misfortunes that prevented him from winning games and taking off as an ace on the Indians staff.
When the rain began to fall Thursday in the top of the seventh inning at Ken Frank Stadium and Wagner nursing a no-hitter against rival Toms River North, it looked like it would be Mother Nature that would derail the senior right-hander this time.
Instead, Wagner would not be denied and seized his part of Toms River South's rich history.
Wagner blew three Mariners hitters away in the seventh with eight fastballs to lock down a no-hitter, leading the Indians to a 2-0 win. The Monmouth University recruit struck out nine Toms River North batters and allowed four baserunners - three on walks and one on an error.
"It means so much to me," said Wagner, who joins a long list of Toms River South hurlers who have tossed no-hitters - the first since Chandler Thompson threw a five-inning no-hitter vs. Lakewood in 2014. "I've worked so much for this. With the way last year went, to work through it, this is fantastic."
The Toms River South offense finally broke a scoreless tie with two runs in the bottom of the sixth and Wagner went back to the mound with 85 pitches and a light rain beginning to fall. It did not phase Wagner, however, as he made quick work of the first two batters of the inning, striking out both Austin Feigin and pinch-hitter Anthony Sasso on three consecutive fastballs.
"I was fired up," Wagner said. "I wasn't worried about the rain. I felt strong. I was just thinking about pounding the zone and challenging them."
Starting pitching Jared Bellissimo follow by taking strike one, then hit a jam shot to first baseman Connor Feeney for a soft lineout that completed the no-hitter.
"We're so happy for him, the way he bulldogged it in the seventh inning," Frank said. "That's what we've been waiting for from him for the past three years. It's always something that comes up - he'll lose a 2-1 game on a pop-up or something. Tonight he was focused and in that last inning, he threw eight straight fastballs and it seemed like they went down easy.
"It was nice to be here to see that. (Pitching) Coach (Mitch) Powitz did a great job calling the game along with the catcher, Tyler Wisnewski."
Wagner threw 60 of his 93 pitches for strikes and allowed only two balls to be hit to the outfield. Toms River North failed to hit the ball out of the infield over the first five innings against Wagner and finally ended that drought when left fielder Brandon Fischer lined out to Indians center fielder Dylan Danelson.
Mariners third baseman Joey Rose worked a two-out walk by taking a 3-2 breaking ball by Wagner - Wagner's third walk of the game - and Toms River North first baseman Jeff Ciervo lifted a fly out to deep center to end the Mariners sixth.
"I wasn't worried about it," Wagner said of the contact that Ciervo made. "If he got it, I would have known. I have all the confidence in the world in my defense, so I knew it was going to be an out."
The Indians gave their pitcher the offense he needed in the bottom of the sixth. Sophomore T.J. Scuderi blasted what appeared to be his second home run of the young season, but the umpires ruled that the ball hit the far side of the school building in right-center field that was in play and bounded back onto the outfield grass.
"He's a prospect," Frank said of Scuderi. "He's that good. He attacks the ball as well as anybody. I don't know if that ball was on the roof. From my angle I can't see with all the lights in my eyes but I had people telling me it was out."
Scuderi reached third base and was granted the triple after an umpire conference and scored on a wild pitch to break open the scoring. Second baseman Matt Shiffer then drew a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice by third baseman Ben Montenegro, and went to third on an error on a ball hit by senior catcher Tyler Wisnewski.
Junior shortstop Tom Campo - a transfer from Toms River North - struck a blow against his old team with an RBI double to deep left centerfield that centerfielder Dave Cordoma got a glove on as he lunged for it.
Bellissimo matched zeros with Wagner for the first five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. The sophomore left-hander allowed two earned runs on five hits while walking two and striking out two.
Montenegro made a pair of errors in Toms River South's opening-day loss to Jackson Memorial on Friday, but came up big for Wagner in the first inning on Thursday. With two out in the inning, Rose - an Oklahoma State commit whom multiple Major League scouts came to watch on Thursday - scalded a ball toward third base that Montenegro picked off one hop to his glove side and fired to first for the final out of the inning.
Wagner's no-hitter is the second no-hitter of the year in the Shore Conference. Mater Dei senior right-hander Joe Ruth tossed a no-hitter on opening day in the Seraphs' 3-0 win over Keyport.
After starting as a sophomore, Wagner missed the first half of his junior season and threw only 19 innings, during which he struck out 20 and pitched to a 2.21 ERA. Things might not have gone Wagner's way last year, but nothing - not the weather nor the Toms River North lineup that scored nine runs in a suspended game against Jackson Memorial Wednesday - stood in his way Thursday night.
"The dugout didn't say a word all game," Frank said. "That was a great job by them and it was great to see him get it in a great atmosphere. We were the only game in town tonight, you had kids from other teams here watching, a great crowd, under the lights against a rival and a great team. You can't beat it."