MCS baseball ends season at Doubleday

Staff report
Perhaps it was the spirit of playing baseball in a stadium where so many of professional baseball’s greats once played. Perhaps it was the traditions, the dignity, and the somber grace of a visit to a 73-year-old baseball cathedral.

Perhaps it was two young pitchers on their way up throwing the games of their lives. Whatever the cause, Margaretville and Gilboa, two struggling Delaware County League baseball teams put together a marvelous baseball show at Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field last week. Margaretville’s Kyle Short came two batters shy of an historic no-hitter as his Blue Devils squeezed past Gilboa, 1-0.
The contest proved to be a high-school classic, a game concluded in less than 90 minutes with both teams playing brilliant defense and two young pitchers pounding the strike zone as they battled inning by inning and pitch by pitch.

When Margaretville sophomore Kyle Short climbed the hill on the mound it quickly became apparent he was locked into a smooth pitching delivery that saw him almost effortlessly spotting his pitches for strikes. Short was unhittable in making a bid for a perfect game throwing four and-two-thirds innings without allowing a base runner. After fouling off two consecutive 3-2 pitches, Wildcat catcher Nick Vogiatzis worked a base-on-balls to spoil Shorts run at perfection.

Gilboa countered with Hunter Grace, a sophomore pitching sensation of their own. Grace yielded a first inning single to Short who was stranded at third, then refused to allow another Margaretville batter to reach base until the fourth when Marshall Bouton reached base on an infield error.

With the scoreboard showing only zeroes, Short went back to work trying to preserve his no-hit bid in the top of the sixth. Bouton made a slick fielding gem backing up to glove a ‘tweener’ to gamble on a high hop with just enough time to throw out a Gilboa runner at first. Short yielded a second walk in the inning, but kept the no hitter alive by snaring a line drive up the middle out of the air before the ball sailed past the mound for the final out of the inning.

Margaretville finally broke the ice, scoring a run in the sixth without a hit. With one out and the bases clear, an inside Grace fastball cut too tight and hit Ian Williams on the hip. The fleet footed Williams stole second, then scored when the Gilboa catcher’s throw sailed past the base as Williams attempted to steal third.

Short trudged to the mound for the last time, a baseball milestone just three outs away with an opportunity to close out a no-hit pitching jewel a real possibility. Four pitches were all the Margaretville pitcher needed to fan the first Gilboa batter. Into the batter’s box strode Gilboa’s leadoff hitter Ben Standhart.

Standhart took a curve ball for strike one, then flailed at a second breaking ball for a second strike. A third Short curve hung just a hair too sweet over the middle of the plate and Standhart slapped the pitch hard and clean to left field for the Wildcat’s only hit.

Gilboa made a bid to tie the game when Standhart stole second and advanced to third when a pick-off attempt squirted past the Margaretville shortstop and into centerfield. Short bore down getting the second out on a called third strike. The Blue Devils’ sophomore then went back to his breaking ball to win a battle with Gilboa’s best hitter, inducing Grace to ground out to shortstop. Ian Williams fielded the ball cleanly and fired a strike to Matt VanValkenburg at first to end a memorable baseball encounter.