March 27, 2013 is a date that Bryce Keller and his Port Washington teammates will never forget.
The senior righthander pitched one of the greatest games in Long Island history. It wasn't a no-hitter or a perfect game -- it was a different kind of domination. This was a pounding of the strike zone so efficient that Keller struck out 20 batters and walked none in a seven-inning 4-0 win over Herricks.
And what made the feat even more amazing was that the first 15 outs were strikeouts.
"I had complete command of all my pitches,'' Keller said. "My changeup was working and my 12-to-6 curveball had great movement.''
Mix those off-speed pitches with a fastball that reaches 90 mph and the Princeton-bound Keller was in complete control. He allowed three hits.
"It was phenomenal from start to finish,'' Port Washington coach Matt Holzer said. "My assistant coach [Joe Delgais] said he never has seen anything like it in his 25 years in baseball. He was throwing free and easy and popping. His leg drive and arm speed is the key to his velocity. When he has all of his pitches working, no one can hit him.''
The 5-10, 175-pound Keller opened the game with seven straight strikeouts before Adeel Bari legged out an infield single on a 3-and-2 fastball. Port shortstop Eric Klug made a diving stop but Bari barely beat the throw to first.
Keller, unaffected by the spoiling of the no-hit bid, struck out the final two batters in the third inning for nine Ks in three frames. He struck out the side in the fourth and the first batter in the fifth before allowing a bloop single on a 1-and-2 changeup. He struck out the next two batters to end the fifth.
"He had 15 strikeouts through five innings,'' Holzer said. "It was incredible. The defense didn't have to make a play.''
It would in the sixth inning. Keller induced a ground out before allowing an infield single to start the sixth. He struck out the next two hitters to give him 17 heading into the seventh.
"I was feeling good in the seventh,'' Keller said. "And I was hitting my spots. My location was good.''
Keller punctuated the performance by striking out the side in the seventh for the grand total of 20, the second- highest strikeout total in a seven-inning game in Nassau history.
The pitchers are always ahead of the hitters in March, but this one was different. This was more than being in midseason form. This was an outing to never forget.