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Grand opening for Concord at Babe Ruth World Series

  • Concord’s Jonah Wachter finds contact, but pops out to Torrance first baseman Tanner Barbosa on a second-inning fastball at the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series on Thursday in Longview, Wash. Concord beat Torrance, 6-4, in the opening game of pool play on a combined no-hitter from Wachter and Tyler Wright. JOSHUA HART / The Daily News

  • Concord’s Jake Sullivan rounds third base to score on a Trevor Smith single in the second inning on Thursday in Longview, Wash., in the opening game of pool play in the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series. Concord beat Torrance, Calif., 6-4, on a combined no-hitter from Jonah Wachter and Tyler Wright. JOSHUA HART / The Daily News

  • Concord’s Jonah Wachter delivers a pitch in the fourth inning on Thursday in the opening game of pool play in the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series in Longview, Wash. Wachter and Tyler Wright combined on a no-hitter as Concord beat the Pacific Southwest champs from Torrance, Calif., 6-4. JOSHUA HART photos / The Daily News

  • Concord’s Tyler Wright delivers a pitch in the seventh inning on Thursday in the opening game of pool play at the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series in Longview, Wash. Wright earned the save and combined on a no-hitter with Jonah Wachter as Concord beat Torrance, Calif., a three-time World Series champ, 6-4. JOSHUA HART / The Daily News

  • Concord’s Ronan McGonigle gets tagged out trying to take third base on Thursday in the opening game of pool play at the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series in Longview, Wash. McGonigle went 1-for-3 with a run and was excellent in center field as Concord beat Torrance, Calif., 6-4 JOSHUA HART / The Daily News

  • Concord’s Ronan McGonigle celebrates a run during the fifth inning on Thursday in Longview, Wash., in the opening game of pool play in the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series. Concord beat Torrance, Calif., 6-4. JOSHUA HART / The Daily News



Monitor staff
Saturday, August 11, 2018

What a start.

After traveling more than 3,100 miles to Longview, Wash., the Concord All-Stars opened the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series on Thursday with a combined no-hitter from Jonah Wachter and Tyler Wright in a 6-4 win against Torrance, Calif.

“You come into these things and you just never know what you’re going to see for talent,” Concord coach Ryan McGonigle said. “And for our kids, coming from a small town in New Hampshire … to come out here and get a win, that’s huge for us. We’re a good team, fundamentally sound, and I suspect that the jitters are out and we’re here now, we’re here to play ball now.”

Wachter, who worked 5⅔ innings before reaching the 95-pitch limit, admitted to having jitters before the game. He knew he was facing a powerhouse in Torrance, which has won three World Series titles, the latest in 2016.

“I knew we were going up against some good competition, I knew they had been here before, so I was a little nervous,” Wachter said.

Some of the nerves went away as Wachter warmed up at Story Field and felt like he had command of all his pitches. But he lost the feel for his curveball in the first inning and hit two batters with breaking balls that didn’t break, and both of the hit batsmen wound up scoring – one on a wild pitch and one on a ground ball – cutting Concord’s early lead to 3-2.

“I just wasn’t snapping the curveball, it wasn’t coming down, so I had to work harder to get that going,” Wachter said. “But toward the end I figured it out.”

After pitching a scoreless second inning, Wachter walked Andy Perez to start the third. Perez went to third on a two-base error on a pickoff attempt and came home on a ground ball from Ben Medrano. It was another bizarre run for Torrance, but Wachter shook it off thanks to the 5-3 lead the New England champs had built.

“My team definitely helped give me the confidence,” said Wachter, who finished with two strikeouts and five walks. “They just put the ball on the bat and that helped.”

After walking Perez, Wachter retired 11 of the next 13 batters he faced.

“All these kids are exceptional about keeping it one pitch at a time,” McGonigle said. “They do it on their own, we don’t have to coach it a lot. All of our pitchers are very sound and Jonah is one of the best. He’s a low-ball, low-strike pitcher and he’s consistent. He’s not going to lose control out there to the point where he goes in the tank.”

Wachter walked Luke Richardson with one out in the sixth before recording the next out and reaching the mandated pitch limit. That’s when Wright came in, with two outs, Richardson at third and a no-no, and the win, on the line.

“I had a lot of nerves coming in knowing it was a no-hitter for us, and I just tried to block that out,” Wright said.

The nerves led to a wild pitch which allowed Richardson to score and make it 6-4, but Wright recorded the third out before any more damage was done. He hit Ian Demontagnac to start the seventh and then had another moment of nerves when Torrance’s Tanner Barbosa hit a shot down the left-field line that had enough distance to be a game-tying home run, but wound up 10 feet foul.

“I thought it was out off the bat,” Wright said, “and then I prayed for it to go foul.”

The prayer worked, and then Wright struck out Barbosa to end the game and complete the no-hitter.

“It’s great to get the first win, especially against a team like that, and with a no-hitter,” said Wachter, who has never been involved in a no-hitter until Thursday.

The Concord hitters didn’t show any jitters against Torrance starter Jett Hays, a hard-throwing righty who struck out six but gave up nine hits in his 4⅔ innings on the mound. Trevor Smith (2-for-3, RBI, run, walk) and Nate Vandersea (2-for-4, two runs) had back-to-back one-out singles in the top of the first and then Ronan McGonigle walked to load the bases. Smith came home on a wild pitch, Vandersea scored on a single from Wright (2-for-4, two RBI) and McGonigle made it 3-0 when he scored on a throwing error.

After the Pacific Southwest champs manufactured their two runs in the first, Concord pushed its lead to 4-2 with the help of Jake Sullivan’s legs. With two outs, Sullivan beat out a grounder for an infield hit, stole second and then scored on a single to right from Smith.

Concord added another run in the fourth when Ryan Kastle worked a walk, took second on wild pitch, went to third on an infield single from Kevin McDonough and scored on a throwing error to make it 5-2. A two-out double from Wright (the only extra-base hit of the game) in the fifth plated Vandersea with Concord’s sixth run.

“We did what we needed to do in terms of getting some timely hits and getting some people around the bases,” coach McGonigle said.

Now the kids from New Hampshire can rest for a day, enjoy the action at Story Field and get ready to square off against host team Kelso, Wash., at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Each team has four games in pool play and the top three teams from the two five-team pools advance to the elimination portion of the tournament, which starts on Tuesday.

“It’s a cool atmosphere,” Wachter said. “It’s a nice stadium, it’s a nice town, a good community. All around I just think it’s going to be a fun week for us.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341, tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)