At some point in time, every baseball fan will encounter the ever popular trivia question: Who is the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter in consecutive starts?
Johnny Vander Meer.
Now, maybe down the road when the CIAC puts out its own version of Trivial Pursuit, Ellington will be the answer to: Which team threw no-hitters in consecutive games in 2016?
That’s right. On April 19, senior Jay Skorulski no-hit Canton by striking out six and walking one on 81 pitches in the Knights 8-0 win.
Two days later, classmate Cam Rosa didn’t allow a hit to Windsor Locks while striking out 13 and walking one on 93 pitches, winning 8-1.
“I’ve been playing and coaching baseball for 50 years,” Ellington coach Keith Tautkus said. “And I’ve never seen back-to-back no-hitters at any level. So it’s pretty exciting.”
Coming into the season, Tautkus told his assistant coach that he thought Rosa would throw a no-hitter this year.
The senior who will play at Babson College next year, has a mid to high 80s fastball and excellent change-up, according to his coach, along with a good curveball.
“Cam is more of an overpowering pitcher,” Tautkas said.
Skorulski is the control type.
“Good control of three pitches and he’s pitched some really exciting games,” Tautkas said. “Two years ago he pitched a 66-pitch, two-hit game against Portland, who won the state Class S tournament that year. Sixty-six pitches. Fifty-seven strikes. He’s capable of having an outstanding performance.”
And that’s the kind of game Skorulski had when he threw the first Ellington no-hitter.
“[He was] really never in trouble,” Tautkas said. “Kept pounding the zone, mixing it up and his change-up was excellent.”
Rosa took the mound two days later and was noticeably excited for the opportunity to match his friend’s accomplishment.
“You could tell Cam was ramped up in that game,” Tautkas said. “Because he was throwing probably harder than he has.”
But these games weren’t one-off performances like Vander Meer’s.
Rosa has only allowed one earned run in 20 innings this season. The run he allowed in the no-hitter was unearned. Skorulski has also allowed one earned run in 14 innings and has pitch counts of 81 and 83 in each of his first two complete games of the year.
Sheehan making a believer out of Altieri
A year ago, the Sheehan baseball team had one of, if not the best, pitching staffs in the state.
Three pitchers from last year’s Class L championship are now playing in college and a fourth, Tyler Daly, transferred to Choate, leaving large holes for coach Matt Altieri this season.
“That was probably the biggest concern I had,” Altieri said.
But so far, even with a pitching staff that came into this year with limited varsity experience, the Titans are finding ways to win.
On April 20 vs. Fairfield Prep, Sheehan came back twice to beat the Jesuits 7-6 in eight innings on a walk-off single by Sal Gozzo. This was the Titans second walk-off win of the season.
Back on April 13, Sheehan walked-off against Shelton by the same score.
These two games showed Altieri something about his team that has pleased him.
“Going through those two games the thing that was clear was, this team wasn’t going to die,” Altieri said. “You could just tell. It was that feeling you get being around long enough. This team better buckle up and pitch well, because if we get some guys on and move some guys, you’re in trouble.”
This offense is led by senior Paul Gozzo who is hitting around .530 according to his coach and leads the team in RBIs despite not being able to catch this year due to off-season labrum surgery.
But Gozzo is helping out in other aspects of the game.
“Paul’s a great leader,” Altieri said. “He’s helped out catcher Steve Carrano. He’s probably the most baseball knowledgeable player I’ve ever coached.”
Gozzo may be able to get behind the plate again before the year is over. But, for now, the Titans are rolling along just fine and chasing another state championship.
“We play to win a championship every year,” Altieri said. “Because it’s a championship culture. That’s what we’ve developed at our baseball program.”
Around the state
Dave Ruden reported that Staples outfielder Nate Panzer (dislocated shoulder) and pitcher/first baseman Mike Fanning (torn UCL) both need surgery and will be out for the rest of the year. …There are six undefeated teams remaining in the state, none in Class S.