Thoughts of a no-hitter get nixed

June 25th, 2015 6:43 pm

First Posted: 7/21/2013

KINGSTON - The last time Chris Nixon pitched a no-hitter, the distance from the mound to home plate was much shorter and the basepaths weren’t nearly as long.

“I think it was in Little League,” Nixon said. “But nothing recent.”

He nearly had another one as recently as Sunday.

But Nixon was pulled after pitching six hitless innings, settling for a combined two-hitter with relief pitcher Frank Brodie at the Wyoming Valley West baseball field during Swoyersville’s 10-1 mashing of Mansfield/Wellsboro in the winners’ bracket of the Region 5 American Legion Baseball Tournament.

“Nix really didn’t have his best stuff today but he battled all day,” Swoyersville manager Sean Toole said. “He was comfortable and I was comfortable with the decision.”

After all, the team has much bigger games on its mind.

The victory put unbeaten Swoyersville in the regional winners bracket final against Wyoming Valley league foe Greater Pittston at 4:30 p.m. today. The winner of that game will enjoy a day off, then have the luxury of winning just one of two possible game against the team that emerges from the losers’ bracket.

“It was a thought to keep going,” Nixon said of his early departure, “but we had to think ahead in the tournament. It felt … you’ve got to think ahead. We have a lot of tough games ahead.”

The toughest part of Swoyerville’s day was figuring out whether or not to give Nixon a shot to try for a no-hitter.

Swoyersville scored single runs in the first two innings, when Mike Leonard singled and scored on an error, and Jeremy Sabecky doubled home Matt Zielen.

Doubles by Nick Hogan, Ryan Hogan and Evan McCue gave Swoyersville two more runs in the third inning. And Swoyersville salted the game away with a three-run fourth inning, fueled by an RBI single from Leonard and a run-scoring double by Joe Pechulis.

“Much better performance than (Saturday),” said Toole, whose 23-0 team took a 2-1 victory in its regional opener. “Credit the kids. We did the little things.”

Meanwhile, Nixon gave Mansfield/Wellsboro very little.

Quickly gaining the reputation as a big-game ace after a two-hit pitching performance for Wyoming Valley West High School in the District 2 championship game, Nixon was just as dominant Sunday — if not as sharp.

Matt Reese led off against him by reaching on an infield error and Nixon issued four walks — including two in the third inning. But nobody came close to scoring against him, because Nixon found something working for him. Even if he wasn’t quite sure what it was.

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you,” Nixon said. “I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff. In key at-bats, a good curveball here, a good fastball there … it turned out good.”

It had a chance to turn into a no-hitter.

First baseman McCue kept the suspense going by racing toward right field and making an over-the shoulder snag of a soft liner to end the fifth inning. Swoyersville center fielder Sabecky than tracked down Ben Shaw’s long shot to lead off the sixth by racing toward the fence and extending his glove for another nifty grab.

“They knew it was a no-hitter,” Nixon, who finished with seven strikeouts, said of his bid at a baseball rarity. “But the guys were joking, everytime I seem to pitch, they seem to make good plays behind me.”

It made for a good debate in the mind of Toole.

If the effort came in a regular-season, seven-inning game, Nixon may have gone to the mound for the seventh inning. But Legion baseball extends its games to nine innings from the regional tournament on, and Toole may need Nixon on the mound later in the tourney.

“We would have talked to him,” Toole said. “We have a pretty good open communication, we talk a lot.”

After the talks finished, Brodie finished the victory.

He surrendered Mansfield/Wellsboro’s first hit when Connor Coolidge led off the seventh inning with a bouncer that took a weird hop under the glove of third baseman Pechulis. And if there was any doubt about that being a hit, Matt Reese erased all thoughts of a combined no-hitter by dropping a double just inside the right field line to begin the eighth inning. Reese eventually came around to score Mansfield/Wellsboro’s lone run on Ben Shaw’s sacrifice fly.

By that time, Swoyersville had taken total command and a 10-0 lead, when Ryan Hogan and Pechulis delivered sacrifice flies and McCue ripped a run-scoring single in the top of the eighth.

Always the team player, Nixon was content to cheer from the bench at that point.

“I don’t know about (pitching) nine, but definitely two more,” Nixon said. “It was definitely a thought later in the game. I could have definitely pitched a little more.

“But it wasn’t needed.”


Mike Leonard 2b,ss`6`3`3`1`0`0`0

Nick Hogan lf`5`2`2`0`1`0`0

Ryan Hogan c,rf`3`1`1`2`1`0`0

Joe Pechulis 3b,1b`4`0`3`2`1`0`0

Evan McCue 1b,2b`4`0`2`2`1`0`0

Matt Zielen rf,cf`3`1`0`0`0`0`0

Chris Nixon p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Frank Brodie p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Matt Labashosky dh`4`0`0`0`0`0`0

Jeremy Worlinsky ss`4`1`1`0`0`0`0

Logan Zavada 3b`1`0`1`0`0`0`0

Jeremy Sabecky cf`2`2`2`1`1`0`0

Brandon Reyes c`1`0`0`0`0`0`0



Matt Reese ss,p`4`1`1`0`1`0`0

Pat Parsons 1b`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Ben Shaw c`3`0`0`1`0`0`0

Bryce Zaparzynski 2b,ss,p`4`0`0`0`0`0`0

Brady Andrews rf`3`0`0`0`0`0`0

Joe Allen ph`0`0`0`0`0`0`0

Connor Coolidge 3b`4`0`1`0`0`0`0

Luke Ruby lf`1`0`0`0`0`0`0

Dan Saniga p,2b`4`0`0`0`0`0`0

Cody DeHaas cf`2`0`0`0`0`0`0


Swoyersville`112`300`030 - 10

Mansfield/Wellsboro`000`000`010 - 1

LOB - Swoyersville 9, Mansfield/Wellsboro 7. DP - Mansfield/Wellsboro 1, Swoyersville 1. E - Zaparzynski, Pechulis, Reese, Coolidge, Ruby. Sac - Ruby. SF - R. Hogan, Pechulis, Shaw. SB - Leonard 2, Zielen, R. Hogan, Sabecky, N. Hogan. CS - McCue, Labashosky.


Nixon, W`6`0`0`0`4`7



Saniga, L`2`5`4`4`1`2



HBP - Zielen (by Zaparzynski). WP - Zaparzynski 2.