McWilliams literally unhittable
ATTICA – Mason McWilliams wasn’t just unhittable Monday night at New Riegel. He was almost uncontact-able.
It may not be a word, but it perfectly describes the Seneca East senior’s effort, where he faced one over the minimum, struck out 15, and recorded his second no-hitter of the season in a 7-0 win over the Blue Jackets.
Being dominant is nothing new to McWilliams – he came in with a 0.16 earned run average, an 8-0 record and 87 strikeouts.
But dominant is one thing.
Perfect is another.
And for six innings, McWilliams was perfect. Of the first 18 batters McWilliams faced, only three – Jake Dryfuse, Austin Mathias and Fred Clark – put the ball in play.
College coaches behind home plate clocked the Ohio University commit’s fastball at 87 miles per hour.
“We’re young,” said New Riegel coach Gregg Hughes of his hitters. “We’re a little overmatched in that situation, but we didn’t give up.”
McWilliams struck out the side in three different innings, and started the game by striking out eight of the first nine hitters. Through six innings, he went to a three-ball count on a hitter just once.
“That’s pretty rare for a high school pitcher,” Seneca East coach Frank Lamoreaux said. “He’s refined his skills since the day he walked into our place as a freshman.”
“I just made sure from the beginning of the game I’d have all of my pitches working,” McWilliams said. “I just stuck with that mindset, and knew that these were good hitters, and just had to keep them off balance. That’s pretty much all there is to it.”
Lamoreaux, who watched his state-ranked team improve to 17-1, 6-0 in the Midland Athletic League, credited his catcher, Nate Snavely, doing a good job as well.
“(McWilliams) threw well, he had good command of his pitches,” Lamoreaux said. “Nate Snavely called a nice game back there.
“Mason hit his spots and had good control. That’s the key.”
Seneca East’s didn’t get much going against New Riegel starter Michael Kirian until the third. The freshman lefty – whose fastball hit 81 miles per hour – ran into trouble then by walking Alex Scheiber and Ethan Caudill to start the inning. McWilliams’ slow roller got through the right side to load the bases, then Ben Cramer slapped a two-run single to left.
Cramer finished with three RBIs in the win.
Kirian went four innings, striking out four and allowing four runs, all earned.
Seneca East added a run in the fourth and three more in the sixth. McWilliams helped himself with an RBI single.
Hughes said there’s plenty to be excited about, with two promising freshman southpaws -Kirian and Alex Theis – on the roster.
“A freshman throwing 81 miles an hour,” Hughes said, “And I’ve got Alex [Theis], he’s a good left-handed pitcher too. That’s a problem I like to have.”
As for McWilliams, he said he started thinking about what he was doing in the sixth.
“You’ve just gotta try to keep that out of your head, not let karma get to you,” McWilliams said. “Towards the end I wasn’t able to locate my fastball like I did the rest of the game. So I just switched to my slider, and got pretty pumped up for that.”
New Riegel’s (8-8, 3-2) only runner came in the seventh, when Austin Mathias worked a leadoff walk. Mathias moved to second when McWilliams got John Zoeller to ground to second, then Dryfuse lined a ball to second -the hardest hit the Blue Jackets had all day – but the Tigers Alex Scheiber was there to snare it and throw back to second for a game-ending double play.
McWilliams’ ERA dropped to 0.13.
Lamoreaux was asked if he thought McWilliams got excited about the perfect game possibility at the end.
“You’ve got to be thinking about it a little bit,” he said. “But there’s nothing wrong with a no-no.”