2019 CRCBL Pitcher of the Year -- Chase Lee
Date: Aug 13, 2019
By Matt Cohen
Gaithersburg Giants Head Coach Jeff Rabberman didn't realize it was happening until the pitch before it ended.
After the seventh inning ended with a groundout, Rabberman walked back to the dugout from the third base coaches box. When he stepped back inside, he quickly became aware of what his pitchers were doing.
"I looked up and I realized," Rabberman said. "I didn't say it to anybody 'Oh my god we have a no-hitter.'"
As if on cue, the first pitch in the top of the eighth inning was hit for deep single, bouncing off the left field wall on a fly. The no-hitter was over as soon as Rabberman knew it was in progress.
The Giants took the no-hitter into the eighth inning, and held the Herndon Braves to two total hits for the game as they won 3-1 on opening night of the 2019 Cal Ripken League season.
It was a night dominated by pitching on both sides. The two teams combined for five hits in the game, and ultimately the winning run was scored in the first inning.
Gaithersburg loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning without a single ball in play. Brendon Hord (Kentucky) hit a ground ball that appeared at to set up an inning ending double play for Herndon. Though the throw from Herndon's Ryan Morash (Hofstra) got away, allowing Warren Laster (Grambling State) and Gino Avros (Austin Peay) to score as Gaithersburg took a 2-0 lead.
That was all the offense the Giants pitching staff would need.
Giants starter Ben Jordan (Kentucky) settled down after a shaky top of the first inning where he struggled to find his command. He walked four batters over his three innings of work, though three of those came in the first inning. Jordan didn't allow a hit and struck out six Herndon batters.
"He's just trying to feel through things," Rabberman said. "Obviously, stuff-wise, he's got plus stuff-wise. The more he throws, the more he gets used to it, the more he knocks the rust off the better he's going to be. He can be special."
Though it wasn't the 6-foot-9-inch hard-throwing Jordan that was the most impressive figure on the mound.
David Hutchison (Millersville) played with the Giants in 2017 where he pitched 35.2 innings with a 2.01 ERA. That summer, he was named a Cal Ripken League All-Star.
He was supposed to play with the Giants in 2018, let alone play college baseball. But an injury cut that short. Hutchison missed the entire 2018 spring and summer.
With Millersville this spring, Hutchison made five appearances and threw just 2.2 innings.
On opening night in 2019 with Gaithersburg, Hutchison pitched more innings than he had all year with Millersville.
"This is home for me," Hutchison said. "Summer ball, this where I want to be. Just the atmosphere, the way Rabs coaches summer ball it's always a good time."
Hutchison relieved Jordan to begin fourth inning, and would go on to pitch the next four innings. He retired all 12 hitters he faced. His four perfect innings resulted in him getting the opening night win.
"It was refreshing to get back to that," Hutchison said. "Two summers ago I had my best summer ever, and then I went from that to not being able to play and watching baseball pretty much for the last two years."
Rabberman and Hutchison have a long standing relationship, and the Giants manager was certainly glad to have Hutchison back on the field.
"It was awesome," Rabberman said. "It's great to see him have the success just cause I've known him for so long. He's a special kid. He's a really special kid and being injured he's gone through a tough time. To get himself back to a place where he's comfortable, he's comfortable here, he knows what to expect and hopefully this could jump start him to have a great senior year at Millersville."
The Braves did score a run in the eighth inning after recording the first hit of the game as Jimmy Losh (Millersville) drove in Brian Schaub (Richmond).
Though the two hits the Braves had in the eighth inning where the only two it would have in the game.
Ultimately the Giants pitching staff combined to strike out 10 batters as part of carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning, something Rabberman said he hadn't seen before from a pitching staff on an opening night. Hutchison recorded the win, Ryan Rue (Hofstra) took the loss and Matt Watters (Towson) picked up a save.
The Giants also found success on the base paths in the win as Grambling State teammates Laster and CJ Mervilus combined to steal six bases. Laster totaled four while Mervilus had two.
The Giants three runs came on just three hits. Finding a way to win with just three hits gave Rabberman confidence knowing he hasn't filled out his whole roster yet with the college season still in progress for some of his players.
In fact, Rabberman didn't seem to think the first night could have gone much better, even down to his team's new jerseys .
"It was the perfect day from the weather, the field, our uniforms, to the crowd, to the way that we played," Rabberman said. "It was a perfect start to the season."
The now 1-0 Giants will stay home to face the 0-1 Alexandria Aces while the 0-1 Braves will travel again to the face the 1-0 D.C. Grays tomorrow night.