In our Under The Radar segment last March, we wrote about Harford (Md.) CC lefthander Jamie Pashuck, who threw no-hitters in back-to-back starts. Paschuck is now at Maryland, but Harford keeps on throwing no-hitters.
Last week, the Fighting Owls recorded a pair of run rule-shortened no-hitters in a span of five days.
"It's amazing, amazing," Harford coach Tom Eller said. "It hasn't sunk in yet that it's been two in one week."
Freshman righthander Taylor Nace earned his first collegiate win by throwing a seven-inning no-hitter Wednesday against Delaware County, striking out 11 batters while walking six but allowing just one to reach second base. Eller describes Nace as "just a straight power guy" who pitches heavily off a high-80s to low-90s fastball, but he mixes in a curveball, slider and changeup.
On Sunday, in the second game of Harford's doubleheader sweep of Jamestown, freshman righthander Matt Petrizzi struck out six during a five-inning no-hitter (shortened because of the 10-run rule) in his first collegiate start. Petrizzi worked in the 84-87 mph range and mixed in a good curveball, Eller said.
Former big leaguer Jay Witasick is Harford's pitching coach, and certainly he deserves some credit for the success of the staff. So does sophomore catcher Nick Octavi, who has caught all four of Harford's no-hitters in the last two years. Eller says Octavi calls his own games—the only catcher Harford has had who does so.
"He's a stud," Eller said of Octavi. "One, pitchers have confidence in every pitch they throw to him. He has barely any passed balls. He's got a rocket for an arm—it's 1.86 to 1.96 (seconds) to second base—and he's a great receiver. He's unbelievable behind the plate. He gives them confidence to throw that curveball that's going to start mid-thigh and break into the dirt, they know it's not going to go to the backstop. It's amazing how well he knows the game as well. We're pretty much on the same wavelength as far as what pitches he calls, why he does it. He's like another coach on the field."
Though he's a bit undersized at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Octavi has drawn significant interest from Division I teams and scouts. Eller said Florida State called about him last year, and this year he has gotten inquiries from Virginia Tech, UNC Greensboro, UNC Asheville, Western Illinois and Delaware.
But for now, Octavi will continue to steer Harford's young pitchers through no-hit bids.
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