MILFORD — Foran baseball’s John Shannon and Shelton’s Anthony Steele were locked in a pitching duel through five innings, before the Lions sent three runners across the plate in the sixth inning to post a 3-0 SCC triumph at Ken Walker Field on Friday.
“It was fun going out and matching pitches,” said Shannon, who saw his no-hitter spoiled by a seventh inning single. “I wanted to keep it (the duel) going until the end. I thrust my teammates to get me some runs.”
Foran’s James Carbone drove a 2-2 pitch into the gap in right-center field to plate Rich Carino, who had walked to lead off the frame. Shane McCone singled to bring up Carbone.
“I was thinking small,” said Carbone, a team captain with McCone. “Really, I didn’t think about the situation. John battles every inning and was great today.”
Dylan DeSio came on in relief and hit Justin DeEll on the sleeve with a pitch. Rich Carino then lined a first-pitch single to score McCone and pinch-runner Ryan Jordan.
“Steele threw the ball great,” Foran coach Garrett Walker said. “He has a live arm — but doesn’t just throw but pitches. That is impressive. John Shannon went toe-to-toe with him. Both teams played great defense and that makes for a quick game (one hour, 25 minutes). We got the timely hit.
“It’s tough to hit John — he is all elbows and knees coming at you.”
Describing the starting pitchers doesn’t fit the baseball axiom. Shannon wasn’t a hard-throwing right-hander. A junior, he used guile to get the job done.
“John has a good variety of pitches he can go with,” Walker said. “His curveball was good, and his changeup also got them to hit the ball on the ground. With his off-speed stuff working, that makes his fastball harder to react to.”
And Steele wasn’t a crafty left-hander. The sophomore threw hard and moved the ball around.
“We’ve seen his talent and he showed it today,” Shelton coach Scott Gura said. “Anthony was fantastic. We couldn’t back it with offense, as we are struggling to put runners on base. We’ve scored runs in only two innings all year — in the sixth inning against Warde and the seventh inning against East Haven.
“That’s two runs in twenty-eight innings. We are inexperienced. They work hard every day in practice. They are not down. They are upbeat.”
Shannon retired 17 consecutive batters, before Sonny DeFlippo reached on an infield error with two out in the sixth. That ended a string of 10 ground balls gobbled up by the Lions.
DeFlippo stole second, but Shannon got a fly-ball out to center.
Neither pitcher went to a three-ball count until Foran’s Michael Simonelli walked on a 3-1 pitch with one out in the third. Steele picked him off first, with Mike Lockavitch throwing down to DeSio covering second for the out.
Steele ended the inning with a strikeout. In the top of the seventh, Shelton’s Joe Romano ended the no-no with a single up the middle that tipped off a diving Jason Giambra’s glove by the bag and into center field.
Shannon shrugged off any disappointment, when he pounced on Steele’s grounder to the left side. He spun quickly and fired to Carino covering second.
Romano came in hard to the bag, but Carino got rid of the ball to Carbone for a 1-4-3 double play.
Player of the Game
John Shannon — Foran junior allowed only one hit and didn’t walk a batter with two strikeouts. He made fine plays to get outs on balls hit to him in the fourth and seventh innings.
“It’s tough to hit John — he is all elbows and knees coming at you.” –Foran coach Garrett Walker