USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team Nearly Fires No-Hitter
CARY, N.C. — With two outs in the ninth inning of Thursday night’s game, USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team had yet to allow a hit against Chinese Taipei.
University of Minnesota righthander Max Meyer looked dominant, striking out the first two batters in the inning with a mid-90s fastball and looking poised to clinch the nine-inning no-hitter for his team.
But a shallow fly ball quickly dropped for a bloop single, and with that, Chinese Taipei mounted a small rally before Meyer closed out the game and gave his team the 3-2 win.
Manager Paul Mainieri admitted he was a little disappointed to lose the no-hitter, especially with the man he considers his best pitcher on the mound.
"It would have been nice to pitch a no-hitter,” Mainieri said. “We were one out away and probably had our best pitcher on the mound. It’s crazy how baseball is. I’ve been waiting two months to watch Max Meyer pitch for Team USA. He’s unbelievable.”
In total, USA Baseball used five different pitchers in getting to the brink of a no-hitter. Florida State lefthander Drew Parrish started the game and threw two innings. He was followed by Kyle Brnovich of Elon, a righthander who struck out four batters and looked dominant in his two innings of work, utilizing a slider with plenty of movement.
But it was Mason Feole, a lefthander from Connecticut, who excelled the most on the night, pitching a team-high three innings and striking out three batters while walking none.
“I thought we all went out there and did what we needed to do—compete,” Feole said. “And I helped us get a win tonight, which was awesome. It was fun being out there.”
Feole entered the game in the fifth inning and pitched through the seventh frame, but he says he had no idea that his team had yet to allow a hit.
“I honestly had no idea that we had one,” Feole said. “I just kind of blanked out there, going out and competing, but yeah, we did an awesome job.”
When asked why Mainieri let Feole throw one more inning than the previous two pitchers, the manager admitted Arkansas lefthander Matt Cronin was supposed to pitch, but he was unavailable because the Razorbacks were still competing in the College World Series.
“Yeah, because Matt Cronin would have been pitching tonight,” Mainieri said. “But he’s still pitching in the World Series. So we had to make up for one inning. We mapped out our plans two or three weeks ago, (Virginia head coach) Brian O’Connor and I, and because Cronin is still pitching, where his spot is in the first two or three games we had scheduled him to pitch, we just gotta make up the difference somehow so Feole gave us three innings tonight.”
After Feole exited the game, it was Parker Caracci, a righthander from Mississippi, who entered the game to keep the no-hitter intact. Caracci made quick work of his opponents, striking out two batters without allowing a man to reach base in the eighth inning.
And while Meyer allowed two runs in the ninth inning, he still looked strong and struck out three batters. The last out was a swinging strikeout on a pitch outside of the zone that the batter fruitlessly chased. Mainieri was happy with Meyer’s performance and told him so.
“What I told him is the same thing I tell my closer back at LSU,” Mainieri said. “‘The closer’s role is to get the last out before the run touches the plate that would have tied or put them ahead. You don’t get style points, you just have to finish the game. And he did.”
Team USA will have another opportunity to hurl a no-hitter on Friday night when it faces Chinese Taipei at 7:05 from Coleman Field.