Greg Musk was tipping off his fastball in the beginning of Schalmont’s Section II Class B baseball tournament semifinal game with Chatham Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Park.
“One of their batters knew when I was going with the fastball. I was moving my hand around in my glove, and I heard them talking about it,” said Musk. “After that, I’d move my hand, and sometimes I wouldn’t. They were watching my glove and I was mixing it up. They didn’t know what was coming.”
With pitches high and low, up and down, and fast and slow, Musk authored the Sabres’ third no-hitter this season in only his third start, and also knocked in the game’s first runs in a 6-0 victory over the top-seeded Panthers.
“He did a great job of keeping them off balance. He was tough,” Schalmont coach Bob Anderson said of the junior lefty. “He pitched, he pitched. He didn’t throw.”
Musk struck out nine, including the final batter he faced, and walked one in stretching Schalmont’s postseason hitless streak to 13 innings after Jimmy Hamilton’s quarterfinal gem against Catskill. Musk was perfect through three, and with some help from shortstop Joe Wignot, escaped Chatham (17-5) scoring threats in the fourth and fifth.
“I just went out there with confidence,” said Musk. “My thought was I’m going to hit zones, my defense is going to make plays and we’re going to score runs.”
Musk hit a two-run double in the sixth, and Dom Toma hit a two-run double in the seventh. Hamilton also doubled in a run home in Schalmont’s four-run seventh, and Kevin Paskevich brought a run across on a bases-loaded walk.
Chatham starter Caleb Gregg issued eight of the Panthers’ 11 walks. The junior fanned 10 and gave up three hits before leaving in the seventh.
“If I walked half as many as they did, I’d probably lose this game,” said Musk.
Musk issued his only walk with one down in the fourth, and an infield error followed. Chatham clean-up batter Cody Coons smacked a grounder up the middle that Wignot snagged, and the junior shortstop stepped on second before firing to first for a double play.
“When we hit it hard, we hit it right at them,” said Chatham coach Scott Steltz. “Give him [Musk] credit. He located and mixed it up, and they made plays behind him.”
Wignot handled a grounder and fired to first to close out the fifth inning after a strikeout-passed ball and a two-out, infield error on a fielder’s choice set up another Chatham opportunity.
“I trust my fielders to get them out,” said Musk. “They made plays, and helped me get through it.”
Musk pitched Schalmont (No. 4 seed, 18-4) past Hudson in its season opener and made his second start when the Sabres beat Cobleskill-Richmondville earlier this month to clinch the Colonial Council Patriot Division championship.
“He had some shoulder problems. We shut him down, and slowly worked him back. He made some relief appearances, and got the start in our last regular-season game,” said Anderson. “Before this game, I looked him in the eye and said, ‘You have to be honest with me.’ He said it didn’t hurt at all.”
Musk hit a Chatham batter with one down in the sixth and retired the last five Panthers he faced in joining Hamilton and Matt Capovani on the Sabres’ 2013 no-hit list.
“I kind of knew I had one going,” said Musk. “I was just trying to get the win.”
Wignot led off the Schalmont sixth with a walk, Paskevich drew another with two down, and both advanced on a wild pitch. Musk’s opposite-field double to deep left gave Schalmont a 2-0 lead.
“In the beginning of the year, I was pulling the ball. Coach said, ‘Watch it and go with it They don’t think you can hit it deep the opposite way, but if you make nice contact, it goes,’ ” Musk said.
“We couldn’t get the big hit with runners on,” said Anderson, whose team stranded eight through the first five innings. “We finally got the hit when we needed it.”
Andrew Cote and Hamilton hit back-to-back doubles in the Schalmont seventh to make it 3-0. Three straight walks and Toma’s double increased the lead to 6-0. Toma also tripled, and Anthony Yezzo had a double.
Schalmont will play Johnstown (No. 6, 16-7) in today’s Class B final at 4 at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium after the Sir Bills topped Hudson, 8-1, for their third postseason win. Schalmont secured its last championship (Class A) in 2006. Johnstown’s last title came in 1968 (Class B).
“We have preached 21 outs. Don’t stop until you get 21 outs,” said Anderson. “That’s what’s been keeping them focused.”
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Musk and Yezzo; Gregg, LeClair (7), Williams (7) and Skype.