WILDCATS 3, MUSTANGS 0
Coming into the season, Brian Morrell was expected to factor into Shoreham-Wading River’s pitching rotation, most likely as the No. 3 starter. Because of the way the schedule worked out, the talented youngster’s first opportunity to start a game came Friday, eight games into the season.
A freshman already in second year on varsity, Morrell made his first start one to remember.
Morrell tossed a no-hitter at Mount Sinai High School, leading the unbeaten Wildcats to a 3-0 victory. He needed just 80 pitches and finished one walk shy of a perfect game.
“I couldn’t have imagined throwing a no-hitter as a freshman,” Morrell said. “This is just an amazing experience for me. I can’t believe what I just accomplished.”
The final out came on a ground ball to shortstop Matt Fox, who whipped the ball across the diamond to first baseman Adam Piotrowski. A stunned-looking Morrell walked off the mound with a wide smile as coach Sal Mignano headed out from the dugout to congratulate him.
“He’s legit,” Mignano said.
Morrell mixed in a slider and curveball with his fastball to keep Mount Sinai’s hitters off balance. He struck out nine and the Wildcats’ defense was sharp throughout. The only baserunner to reach against Morrell came in the third inning. Mount Sinai second baseman Matt Katsaros fell behind 0-2 before drawing a walk. He reached third on a stolen base and wild pitch, but was stranded there when Morrell got the next batter to ground out.
“My slider was very effective,” Morrell said. “I kept throwing it for strikes.”
Morrell pitched five innings of relief against John Glenn April 1 and did not allow a run. That convinced Mignano to give Morrell a start.
Morrell plays shortstop, so Mignano figured it would be best to allow him to play the field for the first two games of a series and then pitch the finale.
Friday’s win gave the Wildcats a sweep of Mount Sinai to open the League VII season. The Wildcats remain unbeaten at 7-0-1. They tied Glenn 5-5 after running out of daylight in the non-league game.
It was Morrell who made the most challenging play in the field to keep the Mustangs from getting a hit. In the fifth inning, leadoff hitter Jason Conti hit a sharp grounder back up the middle. The ball deflected off Morrell’s glove and rolled behind the mound. Morrell raced back in pursuit, scooped up the ball and fired a strike to first to get the out.
“Really, I don’t know how I did that,” Morrell said. “I just tried to get a piece of my glove on it. Then it just happened.”
By the fourth inning, Morrell was already aware that he hadn’t given up a hit.
“I really felt confident,” he said.
Catcher Jack Massa, who recently committed to Canisius College, helped guide Morrell through his first varsity start.
“He’s a captain, leader,” Morrell said. “I don’t know how to explain it. He’s just someone that’s amazing.”
Both players had big days at the plate. Morrell was 3-for-4 and Massa went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI.
The Wildcats scored twice in the first inning. Zach Pirella hit an opposite-field single to left field that drove in Massa for the second run of the inning. The Wildcats added another run in the fifth when Massa singled to right field to bring home Chris Moran.