BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - Mets general manager Sandy Alderson watched with joy Friday night while Steven Matz, a lefthander out of Ward Melville High School, flirted with a no-hitter as the Binghamton Mets won the Eastern League championship.
Jayce Boyd's walk-off double in the ninth inning drove in Gavin Cecchini and gave the Mets a 2-1 win over the Richmond Flying Squirrels, completing a three-game sweep. It was the Mets' first Eastern League title in 20 years.
Matz was brilliant, striking out 11 in 71/3 innings. He showed Alderson why he earned the Sterling Award as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year.
Matz cruised into the eighth with a 1-0 lead and a no-hitter within reach. With his pitch count at 98, he struck out leadoff man Angel Villalona with a 93-mph fastball.
Matz had the crowd buzzing until Elliott Blair dumped a weak liner into rightfield to break up the no-hit bid. The moment briefly sucked the air out of NYSEG Stadium before the crowd stood and acknowledged Matz's effort.
"I wanted the no-hitter so bad," he said. "I tried to throw the fastball away and it was a little up. I wasn't happy about it, but all that really mattered was getting the win."
Matz surrendered another single to right before he was removed to a thunderous ovation. (A good sign for the young lefthander: Alderson stood up and applauded, too.)
"He had command of all three of his pitches, held his velocity and kept his breaking ball down," Alderson said. "He pitched a great game."
Asked if there is a timetable for Matz to reach the majors, Alderson said, "You can't slow a guy like him down, and he knows that. He's on our 40-man roster. He's one of our guys."
After replacing Matz, Hansel Robles allowed a two-out RBI single that tied the score at 1. Matz wound up with a no-decision in which he was charged with one run and allowed two hits and two walks.
Matz is comfortable on the big stage. He also pitched a title game last year, leading the Mets' Class A Savannah affiliate to the South Atlantic League crown. "It's special to pitch in championship games two years in a row," Matz said. "I wasn't really disappointed that I wasn't added to the 25-man roster during the September call-ups. My goals were to improve in some areas that needed work, and I felt that was accomplished."
Matz knew his audience included Alderson, the man who controls his future. "I just do my job and things will work out," he said. "I felt real good tonight, real good."