Duke McCarron Throws No-Hitter for First Varsity Win
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Ocean City baseball coach Andrew Bristol has a pretty simple recipe for success this season: scratch a few runs across early then let his pitching and defense do the work the rest of the way.
That formula worked to perfection on Friday afternoon at Absegami, as the Red Raiders scored three runs in the top of the first and never looked back, cruising to a 12-0, five-inning win as sophomore right-hander Duke McCarron twirled a no-hitter with three strikeouts. For McCarron, the win was the first of his promising career.
Ocean City came in as the No. 10-ranked team in the state, according to the weekly nj.com Top 20 poll, and did nothing to suggest that it’s not one of the best teams in South Jersey. Matt Nunan went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, McCarron helped his own cause by going 1-for-3 with a run scored, and senior shortstop James Mancini slammed the first homer of his career, a solo shot in the third that gave the Red Raiders a 5-0 lead.
The win was the third straight for Ocean City after a 2-0 loss to Bishop Eustace in the recent Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Mainland, and the Raiders have a big game on Saturday at Gloucester Catholic. And the schedule will get a whole lot tougher next week, as Ocean City takes on Hammonton, EHT and Millville.
“We rely on our pitching and defense and just try to put the ball in play and make things happen. That’s how we’re going to approach it next week,” Bristol said. “We set the week up, we talk about it and we set goals for each week. Our goal was to win out this week. We have one more tomorrow, and that’s a big one, but we didn’t want to (look past this game) and think about that one. Last time we came here we got no-hit and we didn’t forget that. We came ready to play.”
Tom Finnegan started things off in the top of the first with an RBI single to left, driving in Joe Repetti, and Nunan made it 2-0 when he scored from second on a fielder’s choice, as Absegami wasn’t able to complete what might have been an inning-ending double play. That left the door open for Gannon Brady — who hit into the fielder’s choice — to come around and score later in the inning on an error, giving McCarron a 3-0 lead to work with before he even threw a pitch.
“What I liked out of Duke — and what I always like out of Duke — is that he’s always a competitor. He wants the ball, he wants to get out there and what I liked was he found his groove. Early, he was having trouble spotting his fastball and then he found his arm slot and got into a little bit better of a rhythm,” Bristol said. “We talked about how important it is to score runs in that first inning on the road so our pitcher walks onto the mound with a lead, and we had three to start the game. That’s a nice added touch when you have a lead before you even go out there, but I just like the way Duke competes. He’s a bulldog.”
Ocean City (4-1, 3-0 Cape-Atlantic League American) rapped out eight hits, including two doubles and the first home run of Mancini’s career, a shot high and deep to left-center field.
“I like the way Mancini hit the ball and he played a nice shortstop today,” Bristol said. “He’s a senior but he was a JV kid as a sophomore. He missed his junior season (because of Covid-19) and he had earned that starting spot. That was a big year, and a big loss for him. So, our hitters are starting to figure it out a little bit. We’re hitting the ball, we’re grinding at-bats and we’re fast.”
The Raiders also took advantage of six walks and three hit batsmen by Absegami (2-3, 2-2 CAL American), a sign of a very young Braves squad that features just two seniors in the starting lineup.
“For this group right now, we’re just trying to match intensity. Today we didn’t do that, but I saw some of the guys (from other teams) at the Coaches vs. Cancer games last week and you hear the Mainlands, the Ocean Citys, the St. Augustines and the Bishop Eustaces chirping, being loud and being into the game. It’s just trying to get our guys to understand that we deserve to be on this field just like anybody else, we just have to match the confidence and energy (of those programs). We’re trying to instill that in them,” said Absegami coach Mike DeCicco, who played his high school ball at Mainland. “It’s easier said than done. We try to instill in them that ‘so what?’ mentality, so you didn’t make a play or something didn’t go your way, that’s fine. I think it’s just understanding it’s not always going to be perfect and you just have to come back and try to make the next play. As cliche as that sounds, I think that’s really what it comes down to.”
What’s next: Ocean City travels to Gloucester Catholic on Saturday at 4 p.m. Absegami travels to Millville on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays
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