The scene was something you rarely see at a baseball game on Long Island. Behind home plate Thursday was a representative from every major-league team with radar guns, pens and pads to document the pitches thrown by Patchogue-Medford righthander Marcus Stroman and Ward Melville lefthander Steven Matz.
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Both players had this game circled on their calendars and it more than lived up to the hype. Need proof? An American League scout said it was the best high school baseball game he has seen in years.
Stroman threw a three-hitter, walked none and struck out 14 for PM (3-5, 3-5) and Matz threw a one-hitter, walked four and struck out 12 as visiting Ward Melville prevailed, 1-0, in Suffolk League I.
"I was looking forward to this for a long time," said the Coastal Carolina-bound Matz. "Getting that last out felt awesome. Stroman hit his first home run off me. It was great to go against him."
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The two are close friends, played baseball together in the summer and were roommates when they played in the Area Code Games this past summer. They sent each other text messages before the game asking if they were ready and they certainly were.
"I loved it," the Duke-bound Stroman said. "It was a tough game. We were both pumped up and we both pitched a good game. He's legit. I say he gets drafted high. He mixes his pitches well."
Both were clocked as high as 93 mph. Even in the seventh, Stroman reached 91 and Matz touched 90.
Stroman allowed a leadoff double to Pete Gelsomino in the top of the seventh and Matt LaRocca put down a sacrifice bunt that first baseman Matt Benincasa fielded. He tried for the out at third, but pinch runner Steven Pesapane beat it. Pinch runner Ben Ley stole second and Stroman struck out Pat Rodgers on a curveball in the dirt.
Catcher Mike Johnson blocked it, picked it up and made the throw to first to record the out, but Pesapane broke for the plate and beat a poor throw home for Ward Melville (8-2, 6-0).
"I got behind Gelsomino 3-and-0 and came back with a fastball to make it 3-and-1," Stroman said. "I knew he was sitting dead-red fastball, but I didn't want to throw a curve and walk him. I challenged him and he hit a good shot."
There are no bragging rights for either player offensively. Matz and Stroman each went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
"I'll let him talk first and respond to what he says," said Matz, who left a runner stranded at third in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. "It feels good to beat him since we're friends."