Prior to Tuscarora sophomore Cole Gabriele’s first start on varsity Monday against Park View, Coach Mark Bauer told Gabriele to concentrate on throwing strikes and making the Patriots earn everything at the plate.
What ensued took Bauer and Gabriele by surprise, as the inexperienced starter threw the fourth-year program’s first no-hitter with 12 strikeouts and two walks in a 12-0 win.
“I was excited and nervous at the same time,” Gabriele said of his first career start. “I didn’t think that this would ever happen, but I’m so happy it did.”
The southpaw worked diligently to stay ahead of the batters he faced to throw 18 first-pitch strikes against 23 batters.
The 6-foot-3 Gabriele walked the game’s first batter, but quickly found his footing. After five innings his pitch count was in the 65-69 range, and with a no-hitter a possibility, Bauer and pitching coach Tom Lucero decided to let him finish the job.
He threw just seven pitches in the sixth to pick up three outs and struck out the side in the seventh. According to Bauer, it looked like the youngster was getting stronger.
“The pitching coach called a great game and Cole threw a lot of strikes,” Bauer said. “There haven’t been a lot of highs in the win column for us, but in these first two games we’re doing stuff we’re never done.”
Gabriele extended thanks to his teammates for playing outstanding defense behind him. Second baseman Dalton Wagner made a diving play to catch a blooper near the right field line in the second inning, the defensive stop that’s always needed during a pitcher’s chase for a no-hitter.
The 16-year-old hopes the Huskies continue to improve on the 2-0 start to their season. A matchup against a tough Woodgrove team is looming after their Wednesday game was postponed because of snow in Leesburg.
“Having thrown a no-hitter puts some pressure on me, but I just want to keep going out there and keep having good outings,” Gabriele said.