Throwing a no-hitter is cause for celebration. Getting two on the same day is simply amazing, in the words of VBC Barnstormers Coach Chris Warren.
The back-to-back gems were tossed by right-handers Liam Ohlmann (Choate Prep, Conn.) and Matt McCarty (Sherando High) in a doubleheader on June 26 in the prestigious Bellefonte Showdown in State College, Pa., where the Fairfax County-based Barnstormers claimed the title.
"I've never seen that, ever," Warren said. "It was just amazing."
Ohlmann set a team record with 16 strikeouts in the Barnstormers' 2-0 victory over the Birdsboro (Pa.) Orioles.
Then, McCarty struck out seven in a 7-0 victory over St. Mary's (Pa.), coming within a pitch of a perfect game. With two outs in the top of the seventh inning, the count went full. But McCarty's next pitch was called a ball.
"It was a questionable call," McCarty said. "I guess the umpire thought it was a little bit outside. . . . I've come close to throwing no-hitters a couple of times in high school. It's a great feeling."
The victories propelled the Barnstormers into the final of the wood bat, pool-play tournament. They defeated Gaithersburg American Legion Post 104, 5-3, and then State College (Pa.) Post 245, 13-11, to win the title last Sunday. The Barnstomers went 5-1 in the event.
John Weislow (O'Connell) went 9 for 18, scored eight runs and stole five bases in the tournament. Westfield graduate Louis Ullrich had a strong weekend at the plate and is batting a team-high .526. Meantime, W.T. Woodson All-Met Mike Bianucci is batting .465 with four home runs and 16 RBI.
The Barnstormers (19-4) will play in the East Cobb Classic in Atlanta this week.
A New Bat
The ball was the same and so was the diamond. Nevertheless, Leonardtown rising senior Paul Burch had no idea how different baseball would be with a wood bat.
Burch, a second-team All-Met third baseman, joined the 18-and-under Maryland Orioles this summer in the 10-team Eddie Brooks League, which does not allow aluminum bats.
"It's like a different world," Burch said. "I like playing with the wood bats more because you feel you earn your hits more."
Wood bats are new to most of the Orioles, unlike the rest of the league's teams, which are all teams of 20- to 22-year-olds. Last summer, the Orioles won the Baltimore-Metro League title and finished third at the NABF World Series.
Orioles Manager Mike Wineke knew his team needed a new challenge and found it with wood bats.
"It took us about two weeks to get used to it," Wineke said. "With aluminum, you can pretty much hit the ball anywhere on the bat and it'll go. The sweet spot is about three times the size. You can get away with slower hands.
"With a wood bat, you've got to be stronger, have more bat control, and you've got to make solid contact every time. You can tell who can hit when you see them with a wood bat."
The Orioles have qualified for the Continental Amateur Baseball Association's 18-year-old World Series in Charleston, S.C., later this month.