Mason Denaburg Guides Merritt Island To Victory

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CARY, N.C.—Merritt Island (Fla.) High junior righthander Mason Denaburg tossed a gem on Thursday night, guiding the Mustangs to an 8-0 win over Arlington (Tenn.) High.

Denaburg struck out 11 and allowed just three hits while walking two over six shutout innings. Denaburg, a Florida commit, also went 3-for-4 at the plate.

"We had a lot guys do a lot of nice things today," Merritt Island head coach Greg Plecki said. "Obviously Mason was dominant on the mound. We did a lot of small-ball stuff throughout the game."

The Mustangs scored early and often. Back-to-back singles from Denaburg and shortstop Brady McConnell facilitated the game's first run, which came on an error with two outs. Merritt Island packed on three more in the second, and slowly but surely pulled away from Arlington.

Denaburg showed feel for three pitches. He controlled his fastball well and pitched at 88-91 mph, reaching as high as 93 mph early in the game. Denaburg threw a sharp, late-sweeping breaking ball for strikes; he was able to run it through the front door of righthanded hitters, or use it as a chase pitch away from them.

Denaburg also had feel for his changeup, which he was able to locate down in the strike zone as a swing-and-miss offering. Denaburg said after the game that he normally doesn't throw his changeup against righthanded hitters, but the pitch worked well for him on Thursday and he could use it more often going forward.

Merritt Island shortstop Brady McConnell went 3-for-4 and he also reached on an error. In the second inning, he hit a hard line drive to the gap in left center field for a triple. In the sixth inning, McConnell hit another line drive to left for a double.

The win was critical for Merritt Island, which has set a goal of going 2-2 on the week. Plecki emphasized the team's long term goal of winning a state championship later this spring, and said that the team aims to improve each day in that pursuit.