NEW HAVEN — After watching his pitching staff surrender 26 runs in two losses already in the week, Jonathan Law baseball coach Greg Semler put the ball in the hands of Zach Merchant for his team’s Thursday afternoon game against Career Magnet at New Haven’s West Rock Park.
Merchant didn’t disappoint either himself or his team, as he threw a one-hitter in a 15-0 abbreviated mercy-rule game.
Merchant struck out six and gave up only one walk. He took a no-hitter into the fifth, before the Panthers’ Yamil Jusino Yargas hit an opposite-field fly ball which dropped in right field.
The win evened Merchant’s record at 2-2 and ended what had been a three-game losing streak for the Lawmen, 3-6.
“I felt comfortable out there and just threw strikes,” Merchant said. “I was able to mix my pitches well (between and fast ball and a change-up). And, it was nice having my defense play well behind me.”
Offensively, Law struck for eight runs in the second. It added four more in the third and another two in the fourth, all off starting and losing pitcher Mike Fatone.
Law’s Bryan Reed led the attack, driving in two runs with a single in the second. He then chased home three of four runs in the third with a base-clearing double to left, giving him five RBIs on the day.
“That’s why we hit him in either the third or fourth spot,” said Semler, about Reed, a three-year starter. “Bryan’s a run-producer.”
James Marino had three hits, including a double, with four RBIs.
Law had dropped an 11-1 decision to Fairfield Prep on Tuesday and lost a 15-10 decision to Notre Dame-West Haven on Wednesday, a game in which they held a six-run lead at one time.
“We’re still trying to find our way,” Semler said. “We need a few more games like today. We’ve have hit the ball very well for the past two weeks. Our downfalls have either been poorly pitched games or one in which our defense has let us down.”
The Lawmen were solid in the field against the 2-5 Panthers, making only one error. Reed saved Merchant’s no-hit bid with a running catch off his glove side in left in the fourth.
It was his timely hitting that meant the most on a chilly and over-cast day.
“I’ve been working on my approach at the plate,” Reed said. “I’m trying to be much more patient. To stay back a little more and wait on pitches. Today, I was able to do that.”
Reed entered Thursday’s game hitting .278 before pushing his average to .302.
Law’s seven other hits were scattered between seven players.
Marino, Garrett Tutlis and Reed had doubles.
The Lawmen were able to take advantage of five walks along with a hit batter. In addition, the Panthers made six errors.
“We have a very short roster (13 players) right now, said third-year Career coach Andy (Chip) Porto Jr., a collegiate baseball All-American in his playing days at Southern Connecticut State University in the early 1990s.
“So, I’ve got to play a chess match just about every game. We threw a kid (Angel Lugo) the other day against Hand (in a 6-1 loss). He’s my No 1 and a pretty good pitcher. But he wasn’t available today. And, as everyone knows, this game starts on the mound.”
Porto coaches several AAU teams in New Haven including the Elm City Eagles, a 13-year old group. He’s hoping to have some of his earlier players there ready to play at Career next year.
After the weekend off, Law swings back into play next week with games against Branford and East Haven.