No-hitter by Patriot ace keeps his squad undefeated

Nick Collier spins off a biting slider, which complimented a lively fastball, during his no-hit shutout of Archbishop Curley.

by Gary Adornato

Fourth-ranked Archbishop Curley traveled to Bel Air, Thursday afternoon, armed with a potent lineup and a 10-game winning streak.

All of that momentum, however, only made for a larger impact, as the Friars ran smack into a brick wall. Actually, they ran into John Carroll ace left-hander Nick Collier who was absolutely dominant while striking out 14 batters in a complete game no-hit performance.

The effort produced a 3-0 MIAA A Conference baseball victory for the fifth-ranked Patriots (8-0 overall, 5-0 MIAA A) and they leapfrogged Curley (10-2 overall, 5-1) for the top spot in the league standings.

Collier, who allowed four walks and hit one batter, was overpowering through the first four innings, striking out the side in the first, second and fourth innings. He had excellent command of a fastball that was popping the mit at 85 miles per hour and he complimented it with a sharp slider that kept Curley’s sluggers off balance. During that span Curley had just one base runner as catcher Trent Gast-Woodward drew a leadoff walk in the second.

“I came out in the first inning and the fastball was on,” said Collier. “The slider was on in the first inning, then throughout the game the slider started falling off, but I had the fastball going. I kept pounding the strike zone and got some clutch outs. Towards the end I was getting a little tired, but I fought through it.”

JC’s Ryan Archibald, who will play at Arizona next year, hit a two-run first inning home run to lead the Patriots’ lineup.

Collier got all the offense he would need in the home half of the first inning when John Carroll left-handed slugger Ryan Archibald stood in. Archibald, who will play at the University of Arizona next year, laced an off-speed offering from Curley starter Jeff Calderon, on a line to the opposite field and it carried over the left-centerfield fence for a two-run home run.

John Carroll added a third run in the fourth inning with a little small ball. Johnny Gallant reached first on an infield error to start the inning. He then raced all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nico Santoro. On the play, Gallant alertly went around the bag at second and coasted into third when the Friars left the base uncovered. One batter later, JC catcher Stelio Stakis laced an RBI single to center.

Collier, who no hit Calvert Hall for six innings earlier this year before leaving that contest because of a high pitch count, gave up a leadoff walk in the Curley sixth and started to labor a bit before getting Curley’s Jalen March to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.

“Nick had everything working for him today,” said John Carroll coach Darrion Siler. “He’s the kind of kid who is going to go out there and grind. He’s going to give you everything he has, every pitch. He’s a competitor.”

The Friars mounted their best threat of the afternoon in the seventh inning. Paul Nixon, leading off the inning, laced a hard line-drive at John Carroll right-fielder Tyler Blittersdorf. Blittersdorf, who made an outstanding running catch earlier in the game, appeared to be in position to make the catch, but the ball sailed a bit and glanced off his glove for a two-base error.

Gast-Woodward followed with a walk, but Collier battled back to strikeout Nick Brown and Colton Knoble. Gavin Evans, representing the potential tying run for Curley then was hit by a Collier pitch to load the bases with two down. Collier hung tough and got Nick Richardson to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game and preserve the no-hitter.

“I have to give hats off to Nick. He threw a good game. He was tough,” said Curley coach Brooks Norris. “We were a little bit undisciplined and came out of the approach we’ve had. It seemed like, with every swing, we were trying to take the lead and we were pressing pretty hard right away.”

Despite the setback, Norris feels his Friars are still on course for what they hope to achieve.

“We’re a third of the way through the season and we’re 5-1 in conference,” said Norris. “If we add that out to the last two-thirds of the year, we go 15-3 in conference. I’m pretty confident that gets us a top two seed; gets us a bye and gets us right where we want to be.”

According to Siler, the Patriots have conditioned themselves for success this spring since the off-season.

“We’ve talked about it with the guys since the beginning of the winter, when we would get together and get some workouts in,” said Siler. “We’ve got a special group of young men; guys who are going to put the time in. They are going to work hard and they are going to give us the dedication. They are talented. They play smart. They play with their hearts on fire.”

Collier echoed his coach, “We practiced hard all off-season. Since day one of school we have been practicing and it’s all clicking together right now. We’ve got a great chemistry right now.”

AC 000 000 0 — 0 0 3
JC 200 100 x — 3 6 1
Calderon, Richardson (4), Burton (6) and Gast-Woodward; Collier and Stakias
WP-Collier LP-Calderon
HR: JC-Archibald.