Right around the time he walked out to the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning last Wednesday afternoon, the thought first occurred to Briarcliff pitcher Jack Ryan that he still hadn’t allowed a hit to the Pleasantville Panthers.
But when Panther leadoff hitter Nick Satriale then stepped into a pitch right down the middle and lined the ball to the opposite field, Ryan instantly feared that was about to change. He reflexively jumped high in the air in anguish, turning just in time to see second baseman Joe Scanga take a step to the left and pluck the ball out of the air for an out.
Satriale’s liner turned out to be the last threat of the day from the host Panthers on a dark, damp day at Parkway Field. Ryan wound up striking out the side in the seventh inning to complete his no-hit gem as the Bears improved to 8-0 this season with a 2-0 victory over their archrival.
“That made it even a little more special,” said Ryan about accomplishing his rare and lofty feat against the Panthers. “To do it against Pleasantville after a heated rivalry, yeah, definitely made it more special.”
The Bears’ junior ace, now 3-0 on the mound, finished the day making 95 pitches, 10 under the new state limit. He struck out 11 Panther batters and walked just two, seemingly getting stronger in the later innings. He ended the game by retiring Danny Melillo on a called third strike then, after walking Luke Shippee, getting both Nick Salzarulo and Michael Matica to flail at third strikes.
“He’s come a long way and the sky is the limit with him,” said Bears coach John Schrader, who conceded he really wasn’t aware that Ryan was throwing a no-hitter until near the end of the game.
“I mean, it’s not really something that we look at,” added Shrader. “He was pitching a great game and of course finished with a no-hitter. But we were just all concerned about a team concept and getting a win.”
It was Ryan who also delivered the hit that put the Bears on the scoreboard in the opening inning. After Jake Brown led off the contest with a long ground-rule double to right-center field, Ryan followed with an RBI double down the right-field line that easily plated Brown and gave Briarcliff a 1-0 lead that would stand up all afternoon.
“It was definitely a two-strike count,” said Ryan, recalling his mental approach before driving in the Bears’ first run. “Kind of widened up the stance, get the ball in play. It was a fastball up and away. So I kind of just went with the pitch, tried to put it down the right-field line. Fortunately, I got it on the barrel.”
The Bears maintained their slim lead as Ryan mowed through the Pleasantville lineup a couple of times. Once in a while, a teammate would update him with an approximate pitch count so he could “see if I’m high or low according to the inning.”
As the Panthers’ Satriale came to the plate to lead off the sixth inning, Ryan was forced to wage a war inside his head caused by the sudden realization that maybe he was just a few outs away from completing a no-hitter.
“I thought about it in the sixth, whether or not someone had gotten a hit yet,” he said. “And then I tried to stop thinking about it, tried to stay focused on each at-bat, each pitch, each out.”
The liner by Satriale right at second baseman Scanga sent Ryan hopping high into the air in the middle of the mound, perhaps with even more elevation than at any time during his recently completed basketball season.
“It was a well-hit ball, right off the barrel,” said Ryan. “I didn’t know exactly where the second baseman was playing, so I didn’t know if it was over his head, left or right. And it ended up being right at him, thankfully.”
The Bears provided Ryan with an insurance run in the top of the seventh as Jake Hardy delivered a booming double to the gap in right-center field and later scored on Noah Campo’s sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the inning, Ryan finished up impressively, striking out his ninth, 10th and 11th batters of the soggy day to earn the second no-hitter of his pitching career. The first came in summer ball last year, pitching for a team in the Pennsylvania area that was competing in Georgia.
“I didn’t know in the beginning of the game whether I would have the same stuff throughout the game,” he said. “My arm wasn’t tip-top, the best I’ve ever felt. But I thought after the sixth inning, once we got into the seventh, I felt there was nothing that was gonna kind of stop me from getting through the last inning.”
Andy is a sports editor at Examiner Media, covering seven high schools in the mid-Westchester region with a notebook and camera. He began there in the fall of 2007 following 15 years as a candid photographer for the largest school picture company in the tri-state area.