That’s what Tyler Della Noce’s strikeout felt like to cap off his shutout 3-0 win for River Hill against Reservoir on Friday.
One batter earlier, Della Noce’s perfect game through 6 2/3 innings was broken up by a double to right-center field.
However, despite the disappointment of losing what would have been his first perfect game — or no-hitter — Della Noce didn’t lose focus. The senior got ahead of Gators cleanup hitter Ben Davis 0-2 and struck him out on a high fastball to end the game.
“After they got the hit, it was over. I was then just trying to get the ‘W’ and get the next guy out,” Della Noce said. “I’m actually good friends with [Davis], so it was a little bit of a rivalry going on. I was glad I was able to get him out there.”
Perfect or not, Della Noce was stellar.
The righty pounded the zone with fastballs and trusted his sure-handed defense en route to the shutout, allowing just the one hit and striking out four.
“He was fabulous today,” said River Hill coach Wes McCoy. “He obviously has a lot of savvy and moxie. He wants to be up on the mound. He wants the ball.”
Della Noce, with average fastball velocity and a reliable cutter, isn’t like most high school pitchers who are capable of flirting with perfect games. Unlike former stud hurlers in Howard County — like Reservoir’s Cody Morris, TJ Pipik and Lee Lawler, Oakland Mills’ Joe Zayatz and most recently Mt. Hebron’s Magnus Dunn — Della Noce doesn’t blow hitters away or make them look foolish with sharp off-speed pitches.
He just throws strikes — over and over and over again.
“He doesn’t have stuff that blows it away, but that’s OK. You don’t need it,” McCoy said. “If you can throw strikes, work in and out and up and down and change speeds, you can be successful in high school.”
“I just came in here trying to throw strikes, and this happened,” Della Noce said with a laugh. “Normally, I’m just throwing fastballs waiting until they get that first hit. I threw mostly fastballs today, mixing in a cutter a few times. I’m just trying to pump the zone, outside corner mostly.”
The strike-throwing and slick defense that River Hill (3-1) displayed throughout the game wasn’t matched by Reservoir (2-1) in the early innings.
The Hawks went up 3-0 after three innings despite getting only two hits and making solid contact only once. Aiding the River Hill offense were four free bases (three walks and a hit by pitch) and four errors by the Gators.
Reservoir pitcher Jack Lloyd walked the first two batters of the game, and Hawks leadoff hitter Demetre Koutras later came around to score off a single from Ehi Okojie, whose groundball down the third-base line ricocheted off the bag and into the outfield. Okojie later scored on a wild pitch to put the Hawks up 2-0.
River Hill’s last run came in the third inning on an error.
“We had those walks and those errors, and then we got flat,” said Reservoir head coach Adam Leader. “Hopefully we can learn from this and come back better.”
For the rest of the game, though, Reservoir reliever Ryan Knisley kept the Gators in the game. The southpaw tossed 4 1/3 scoreless, allowing only two hits and striking out seven.
“Ryan came in and shut them out for those innings,” Leader said. “He threw very well. I’m proud of him for that.”
On the other side, Della Noce was methodically retiring Reservoir hitters. In total, he got five groundouts and 12 fly outs on top of his four strikeouts.
The senior worked quickly — rarely taking more than 15 seconds between pitches — and didn’t fear the Gators’ hitters. Pitching with confidence, though, requires a steady defense, which he had throughout the game.
Prior to Quinn Dean’s hit in the seventh, the closest the Gators came to getting on base was with two outs in the fifth when Jake Lee’s line drive to center field was robbed by Okojie.
“Our catcher [Will Zatkowski] did a great job calling pitches, and then that great play in center field was huge,” Della Noce said. “It was unfortunate they got that hit at the end, but my defense was there for me the whole time.”
“He came in here and located,” Leader said of Della Noce. “... He did an incredible job. He threw one great game. I wish, if it weren’t for COVID, I could walk over and shake his hand. I told my pitchers that’s how you need to pitch — throw strikes and trust your defense.”
The win and the near-perfect game was an example for McCoy and the Hawks of how fickle baseball can be.
To start the week, the Hawks struck out 20 times in a seven-inning 3-2 loss to Glenelg, in which Gladiators lefty Andrew Johnson punched out 18 Hawks. Four days later, Della Noce — a totally different pitcher than Johnson — came one out away from a perfect game.
“Baseball is all about ups and downs,” McCoy said. “On Monday, Andrew Johnson was dealing, as good as anyone we’ve seen with maybe the exception of Cody Morris over the years. Those games are going to happen, and it’s about toughing them out and coming back stronger. We did that this week.”
Both teams are back in action Monday. River Hill hosts Oakland Mills, while Reservoir welcomes Atholton to Fulton.
River Hill 3, Reservoir 0
......... 123 456 7 — R H E
RH — 201 000 0 — 3 4 0
Re — 000 000 0 — 0 1 4
W: RH — Tyler Della Noce; L: Re — Jack Lloyd.
2B: RH — Riley Finkelston; Re — Quinn Dean.
OTHER BASEBALL SCORES:
Long Reach 10, Hammond 2
The Lightning (2-2) evened their record on the season by jumping on the Golden Bears (1-3) early, scoring eight times in the first three innings.
Tucker Freer earned the win, allowing one hit and zero runs over four innings of work while striking out three. Brandon Bartolotta then came on in relief and pitched the final three innings, striking out five. Offensively, Long Reach had 12 hits with multi-hit games coming from J.P. Tennant (3-4, double), Freer (3-4, double, triple), Conner Bosley and Chris Stanford.
As a team, Long Reach stole seven bases — with Bosley, Freer, Stanford and Ian Carunungan all swiping bags.
Hammond had five hits as a team, including a multi-hit day from Chase Johnson (2-3, triple). Ryan DeLeon, Nick Wilk and Sam Van Bemmel all had one hit each.
.. 123 456 7 R-H-E
Ha 000 002 0 2-5-1
LR 431 002 x 10-12-1
Centennial 2, Mt. Hebron 0
The Eagles (3-1) got a combined shutout from Cadeyrn Ahearn (five innings, nine strikeouts) and Carter Watson to lead the way to the victory over the Vikings (2-2). Ahearn and Watson also delivered RBI at the plate.
In the loss, Mt. Hebron got multi-hit days from Josh Barke and Mike Brogno.
.. 123 456 7 R-H-E
C 000 002 0 2-6-1
MH 000 000 0 0-5-1
Marriotts Ridge 5, Glenelg 3
Oakland Mills vs Wilde Lake, PPD to June 3
Howard 18, Atholton 0
Maddie Coleman was a two-way star for the Lions (2-2) to help the team snap a two-game losing skid. She pitched a no hitter in the circle with 10 strikeouts in five innings, while also adding three hits and four RBI at the plate.
Erin Gorschboth (three hits) and Katie Green (2 hits, 3 RBI) also had big days at the plate for a Howard team that finished with 14 hits.
Micah Howell started in the circle for the Raiders, while Kyra Holtje came in to close out the last two innings. Holtje struck out five and gave up no walks.
.. 123 45 R-H-E
Ho 153 54 18-14-0
A 000 00 0-0-7
Reservoir 9, River Hill 1
The Gators (4-0) gave up their first run of the season, but scored early and often on the way to home victory over the Hawks (1-2). Kylee Gunkel continued her masterful start to the season by going five innings, allowing just the one run and striking out 11.
Maggie Frisvold (2-4, double, triple), Clare Andrews (RBI), Kayla Ecker (2-3, HR, 4 RBI) Courtney Johnson (2-3, 3 RBI) and Alyssa Kelly (double, RBI) all had big days at the plate for Reservoir.
River Hill’s offense was led by two hits apiece from K. Maiorana (2-4, double) and Sara Emig.
.. 123 456 7 R-H-E
RH 000 100 0 1-6-2
Re 410 301 x 9-9-3
Hammond 4, Long Reach 3
Glenelg 13, Marriotts Ridge 8
Oakland Mills vs Wilde Lake, PPD to June 3
Marriotts Ridge 17, Centennial 7
The Mustangs (3-0) earned their third straight win to open the season, getting six goals from Maisy Clevenger to lead the way to the victory over the Eagles (1-3). Maggie Merrill added four goals.
Louisa Lagera (3 goals, 2 assists) and goalie Ava Welsh (7 saves) led the way in the loss for Centennial.
Goals: MR — Clevenger 6, Merill 4, L. Fisher 2, Bender 2, Held, Meininger 1, Parsons 1; C — Lagera 3, Cudzilo, Kelly, Pilcher, Roybal.
Assists: MR — Bender; C — Lagera 2.
Saves: MR — Hejeebu 3; C — Welsh 7.
Mt. Hebron 13, Howard 8
Oakland Mills 13, Long Reach 11
Atholton 12, Reservoir 7
Glenelg 16, River Hill 8
Oakland Mills 10, Long Reach 8
The Scorpions (2-2) erased a three-goal deficit at the half to earn a come-from-behind victory over the Lightning (0-3). Tyler May scored five goals and Joe Thompson had three in the win for Oakland Mills.
Nick Roby and Elijah McNeil scored two goals apiece to lead Long Reach, while Lightning goalie DJ Belechto made 18 saves.
Goals: OM — May 5, Thompson 3, Nguyen 1, Hamann 1; LR — Roby 2, McNeil 2, Simon, Chin, Nance, McNeil.
Assists: OM — Hamann; LR — Simon.
Saves: OM — Clancy 5; LR — Belechto 18.
Halftime: 7-4 OM.