Thursday, June 5, 2014

Michel Sends HW to North Final

ITL General Austen Michel hasn't joined the team yet this season as he has been busy with is current team, sending them to the MIAA North Final for the first time since 1991.  To say his outing yesterday was outstanding would be an understatement.

"Michel fans 15 in no-hitter to send H-W to first North final since 1991"
By Phil Stacey
Posted:  06/05/2014 4:30 AM
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LYNN — Great players rise up and do great things when the stakes are greatest.
Austen Michel proved yesterday that he most certainly belongs in that elite athletic group.
Hamilton-Wenham’s fireballing junior right-hander spun a no-hitter and struck out 15 Pentucket hitters en route to a 3-0 victory in the Division 3 North semifinals at Fraser Field. In doing so, he helped his club advance to the North title game for the first time in 23 years.
“I knew I had to throw my curveball more today,” said Michel, who said he became aware that the Sachems didn’t have a hit in the fourth or fifth inning. “I pitched against them earlier in the year and they hit my fastball well, so I had to mix it up better this time.
“In the bullpen (beforehand), I really had my curveball spinning and breaking late, so I made sure to use it a lot  in the actual game.”
Head coach Reggie Maidment, whose eighth-seeded Generals (16-7) will face the winner of today’s North Reading/Austin Prep semifinal in the Division 3 North final this weekend, said he thought about throwing capable righty Jack Clay yesterday and saving Michel for a possible North final start.
“But who was I kidding? We lose, we go home,” laughed Maidment. “I asked both guys and Austen said, ‘Coach, today’s the day. I want the ball. I want it.’ And Jack was like, ‘No problem; I’ll play third base.’ Simple as that.”
On a cloudy, cool afternoon, Michel was superb throughout. With a snapping curveball to go with a plus-fastball, he had opposing hitters swinging and missing frequently. There was only one hard-hit ball off of him — a first inning shot deep into left field by Darren Englke that sailed foul — as he allowed just two balls out of the infield. Of his 101 pitches, 71 went for strikes as Michel threw first-pitch strikes to half of Pentucket’s 24 hitters.
Here’s perhaps the best indication of how ‘on’ Michel was: 10 of the Sachems’ 15 batters who struck out were caught looking, guessing on one pitch and getting bamboozled with another.
“Austen’s breaking ball was definitely breaking a lot more, and he was hitting his spots with his fastball,” said catcher Pete Duval. “His heater had a bit of a tail today, which definitely helped. He had a little two-seam going on.”
Down three in their final at-bat, Englke reached first base when his bunt attempt was botched for an error. Unfazed, Michel struck out the next three Pentucket batters (all looking) to end his masterpiece.
Michel, a Division 1 college baseball prospect, improved to 5-3 on the season (with 3 no-decisions) and now has 103 strikeouts and an earned run average under 1.00 on the season.
Pentucket starter Robert Barry came out of the gate and matched Michel virtually pitch for pitch. He struck out five of the first six Generals’ batters who made outs and didn’t allow a hit in 3 2/3 innings of work. But the second time through the lineup, Hamilton-Wenham made something happen without the benefit of a hit.
Cleanup hitter Brett Harring drew a one-out walk and reached third base when Duval’s grounder back to the mound was bobbled by Barry, giving the Generals runners at the corners. With two out and Tom Dowd at the dish, a passed ball enabled Harring to scoot home with the game’s first run.
“I knew we were going to get something (offensively),” said Michel. “Our team’s done that all year; we might struggle the first time through but have good at-bats, then get them the second or third time through the lineup.”
After leadoff hitter Ian Dickey had the game’s first hit, a clean single to right off Pentucket reliever Pat Beaton in the fifth inning, Hamilton-Wenham tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Harring singled to right, took second on pinch hitter Tristan Smith’s single to center, and Gallant was hit by a pitch with two out, loading the bases. No. 9 hitter Henry Eager brought home Harring with a single to center, making it 2-0, and an infield error on a Dickey grounder plated pinch hitter Harrison O’Brien.

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