SULLIVAN TWP. — Buckeye ace Pat Caniglia was humble almost to a fault, as no one would have been upset had the left-hander bragged a little bit after blowing away Black River hitters.
Caniglia had everything working in super-windy 50-degree weather Tuesday, taking a perfect game into the sixth inning and happily settling for a one-hitter in outdueling Brandon Wine in a thrilling 1-0 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division game.
Caniglia (2-3, 2.41 ERA) threw 63-of-82 pitches for strikes, walked one and struck out 12, including streaks of four and six to surpass teammate Josh Meyer for the Medina County lead with 48.
All Caniglia wanted to talk about was error-free defense as well as the pitch-calling of catcher Alex Jeffery in the tidy 77-minute game.
“It was a very emotional game,” a smiling Caniglia said, “very tense.”
With 25-to-30 mph wind gusts at his back, Caniglia attacked the strike zone, throwing 43-of-51 pitches for strikes to hold a perfect game through five. The Pirates (3-15, 2-10) helped matters by swinging at nearly everything, though an unusually low strike zone forced the issue a bit.
Caniglia lost perfection with a two-strike walk to No. 8 hitter Brandon Weidrick in the sixth. Weidrick moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Patrick McCafferty broke up the no-hitter with an opposite-field single to left.
The wind again helped the Bucks (9-13, 8-5), however, as coach Steve Wright had his outfielders stand 20 feet behind the infield lip. Weidrick had no chance to score and McCafferty tried an intentional pickle on the next pitch, but Weidrick was thrown out at home to end the inning.
The shallow outfield also starred in the seventh, when D.J. Matson, who also had the RBI, gunned out Wine at first base on a sharply-hit ball to right field. First baseman Tyler Faught made a nice pick.
“It was relaxing knowing we had a great defense behind us,” Caniglia said. “It’s easy to throw strikes when you have Alex Jeffery calling a great game and that middle infield behind us. It was great.
“We knew that the conditions were going to be rough, so we put a lot of confidence in our infielders and make (Black River) put the bat on the ball and have our infielders make plays.”
Wine (2-3, 3.27) was nearly as good and fired a two-hitter. The senior struck out nine, including three straight in the second after loading the bases on an infield single, walk and error.
The Pirates’ defense was spectacular. Shortstop Justin Zacharyasz made a full-extension diving stab in the third inning, while freshman Devon McLean had the Web Gem of the season with a jaw-dropping over-the-shoulder, Willie Mays-style catch deep in left field that saved a run in the top of the seventh.
“There’s not much to say about it, but I felt like it was just one of those days the hitting really struggled,” Wine said. “We tried to find the groove against (Caniglia), but we struggled with it the entire game.
“I feel really good about our team right now. After the Brooklyn game (a 13-1 loss last week), we got beat pretty bad. That’s when we started to turn it around and started to really jell as a team. I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks.”
Wine’s lone mistake was nearly negated by the howling winds, but Matson lucked out after cleanup hitter Faught opened the fourth by getting hit by a 2-2 pitch.
Matson swung inside-out on a 1-2 count and hit what would have been a routine fly ball to right field under normal conditions. However, the wind sliced the ball hard down the line, and it just barely stayed fair so Faught could score.
That was all the support Caniglia needed.
“I just did what needed to be done,” Matson said of his second double of the season. “I saw all fastballs coming. I was scared at first. I thought it was going to go foul, but it landed about 2 feet from the line. I was as happy as I ever could be.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buckeye 1, Black River 0
BUCKEYE 000 100 0 — 1 2 0
BLACK RIVER 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
WP — Pat Caniglia (2-3) 7 innings, walk, 12 strikeouts. LP — Brandon Wine (2-3) 7 innings, earned run, 2 walks, hit by pitch, 9 strikeouts. Buckeye (9-13, 8-5) — D.J. Matson RBI double. Black River (3-15, 2-10).