Matt McGarry took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and went on to earn the win as the Menlo-Atherton baseball team scored a 6-2 victory over Half Moon Bay in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division opener.
A matchup of the Bay Division’s best through non-league play, M-A came out like a contender on both sides of the ball. McGarry worked five-plus innings, allowing two runs on four hits to earn his first win of the year. Senior right-hander Colin Martell emerged in the seventh to tab his first save.
And the Bears offense showed up in support of their junior starter, scoring a single run in the first before rallying for four in the third. M-A banged out seven hits throughout and added an insurance run in the fourth on a majestic solo home run by senior Jordan Long.
For M-A manager Mike Amoroso, the offensive strategy is simple.
“See ball. Hit ball. Hit ball hard,” Amoroso said.
Meanwhile, a young Half Moon Bay squad did just about everything it could to hurt its own cause. In addition to committing four errors in the field, the Cougars made several key outs on the bases.
Cougars left-hander Josh McKnight tabbed a complete game in taking the hard-luck loss, his record falling to 1-1.
“I thought our pitcher did really well to keep us in the game,” Cougars manager Steve Terraszas said. “Josh threw great. We just can’t compound error after error. … We’re fairly young. But it’s a stepping stone. We make that step. We realize what it takes to play in the [Bay Division] now and we have to adjust.”
Menlo-Atherton got on the board in the first with some help from the Half Moon Bay defense. Although the Cougars didn’t commit an error in the inning, M-A’s Erik Amundson hit a comebacker to McKnight with one on and no outs that looked like surefire double-play ball. McKnight made a perfect throw to second to get the lead runner, but Half Moon Bay shortstop Phil Anderson overshot first base with the throw allowing Amundson to reach. Amundson quickly stole second and senior Brett Moriarty delivered an RBI single to drive him home, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.
In the third, M-A sent nine batters to the plate with the help of three Half Moon Bay errors in the inning. Charlie Cain started the rally with a booming one-out double to left. Amundson followed with another comebacker on which Cain was tagged out in a rundown. But with two outs Moriarty singled to advance Amundson to second. A.J. Lemons followed with a grounder to short that should have ended the inning, but an errant throw to first allowed Amundson to score and also extended the rally. Josh Gabriel cashed in with an RBI single to center to score Moriarty. Then Bears junior Daniel Kollar-Gasiewski capped the rally with a two-run single to left, giving M-A a 5-0 lead.
In the fourth, M-A added an insurance run on Long’s home run. Long almost added another homer in the fifth with two on and two out with a deep drive to right, but Cougars right fielder Mike Rupert hauled it in at the fence.
“There’s been some games where we’ve given away three, four runs, but we were able to hit our way out of it,” Terraszas said. “But when you face a pitcher like that who’s throwing the ball … by you, it’s tough to come back when you spot him six (runs).”
McGarry was blazing a fastball through five innings but yielded the first Cougars hit of the game to McKnight with one out in the fifth. McGarry said he was aware of the no-hitter. He threw one previous no-hitter in his life as a member of the Pros of Alpine Little League when he was 12.
But McGarry hit a wall in the sixth as Half Moon Bay got on the board. Cougars senior Brett Berghammer started the rally with a leadoff double to right-center. Rupert followed with a long RBI double to plate Berghammer. Then after Chet Silveria struck out but reached on a wild pitch, junior James Cartwright drove an RBI single to center to knock McGarry out of the game.
McGarry finished the day with eight strikeouts.
“My fastball was my best pitch today,” McGarry said. “My curveball was pretty good. I didn’t really use the changeup that much today but I’ll probably use that more as the season goes along.”
Despite Half Moon Bay’s defensive misgivings, Berghammer made the defensive play of the day in center to rob Lemons of extra bases with an all-out sprint going back on a long drive in the bottom of the sixth.
“He just kept going and ended up tracking it down,” said Rupert, who had the best view of the catch from right field. “He caught it on the run a few feet back from the fence and ended up having to go into a roll because he had to dive a bit for it.”
With the loss, Half Moon Bay falls to 0-1 in Bay Division play and 5-3 overall. M-A improves to 1-0 in the Bay and 6-1 overall.
“It’s a great way to start the season and get it rolling,” McGarry said.