Baseball: Steele’s super season features no earned runs allowed
He’s Shoreham-Wading River’s man of Steele.
Along with a fastball that may seem faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, there’s a slider that avoids swinging bats. With powers and abilities far beyond the average high school pitcher, it’s Billy Steele, who can change the course of games with a single pitch. He’s not Superman, but what he has done this season has been nothing short of super.
Steele wrapped up the regular season Thursday without allowing an earned run in 41 2/3 innings. The senior righthander hurled a three-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts in a 3-0 blanking of visiting Babylon at Kevin Williams Memorial Field. That brought his record to 6-0 (with one no-decision) and kept his ERA at a spotless 0.00 as the Suffolk County League VII champion Wildcats (17-2, 16-2) head into the playoffs for a 36th consecutive year.
“It is pretty special,” said SWR coach Kevin Willi. He added: “It was that stress of is it going to happen, like a no-hitter or something like that? It’s like you’re thinking about it, but it’s a matter of you need luck and you need talent, and Billy had both.”
Now Steele’s achievement becomes a part of SWR lore. He turned in one of the greatest seasons ever by a SWR pitcher, allowing only one unearned run while giving up 10 hits and 16 walks against 83 strikeouts. His WHIP is .600 and batters hit a measly .065 against him.
“He’s a great pitcher,” said centerfielder Greg Friedman, who delivered his first career home run for a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. “He just goes out there, he throws strikes and, you know, no one can hit him. I mean, he’s dominant.”
Steele, who will pitch in college for Army, said, “I kind of expected not to give up a hit every batter, but obviously those things are gonna happen, but it was really a goal of mine about halfway through the season to finish the season with no earned runs.”
Steele pitched a no-hitter this year against Elwood/John Glenn, using only 73 pitches.
One couldn’t help but wonder if he had another no-hitter in him Thursday when he made good use of his fastball, slider and a changeup. Willi said Steele topped out at 92 mph.
Friedman said Steele “throws hard, so when he throws a high fastball, it’s very hard to catch up to it and he incorporates a slider really good and they go in completely different directions. So it’s kind of like a guessing game when you’re playing against it.”
Steele retired the side in order three times, walked one batter twice and hit another batter in a 100-pitch performance. Whenever Babylon (9-11, 9-9) posed a threat on the basepaths, Steele bore down.
“I also have a pretty good spin rate on my fastball,” he said. “It doesn’t really move a lot. It’s kind of flat, but the spin kind of makes it give the appearance of a rising” ball. He continued, “I just try to get ahead, first-pitch strike, with the fastball and just keep throwing strikes, really.”
Steele also got some help from his friends, who turned in errorless defense. After hitting a batter and walking another in the third, Steele made a nice pickoff move to shortstop Matt Varrone for the second out. Later that inning, with a runner on third base, Kyle Engmann made a fine running catch in leftfield to rob John King of a hit and prevent a run.
Varrone also made a fine lunging grab of James Bender’s hard-hit liner in the seventh before Steele fanned the next two batters to end it.
Friedman, one of SWR’s 10 seniors recognized in a pregame Senior Day ceremony, pinged a 1-and-0 fastball that sent Joe Hanson tumbling over the leftfield fence in pursuit. Babylon questioned whether the ball bounced over the fence, but the umpires conferred briefly and stayed with the original call.
Steele also had two hits, the second an RBI single in the fifth. Engmann, who had singled, scored on that play as did Liam Bowes, who followed him home when the ball skipped past an outfielder.
Bowes has a .565 batting average, five home runs and 27 RBIs. “He just really lit up the stats this year,” said Willi.
So, that’s a wrap on the regular season.
“We did great,” Steele said. “We’re pitching really well. We’re not really giving up too many runs and, you know, when we fall behind, we don’t give up. We just keep battling, keep fighting.”
All super stuff.