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Hills East's Stephen Woods goes for third straight no-hitter on Tuesday

Hills East starting pitcher Stephen Woods delivers in

Hills East starting pitcher Stephen Woods delivers in the first inning. (March 24, 2012) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

And now it's Stephen Woods Jr.'s turn.

The Half Hollow Hills East righthander pitched his second consecutive no-hitter on Tuesday and has big league scouts buzzing.

"He's a special player with a live arm," Mets area scout Larry Izzo said. "He's not a secret anymore. He's getting a lot of attention."

Woods, 6-2 and 203-pounds, will attempt to become the first pitcher in Long Island history to throw three straight no-hitters. He is expected to start Tuesday against Smithtown East (4 p.m. at Hills East). Tuesday's no-hitter came against Whitman; his first was against Islip.

Riverhead lefty Matt Crohan, who threw back-to-back no-hitters before allowing a hit in the sixth inning of his ensuing start, had the scouts' attention last week. Since then, Crohan has improved to 4-0 with 59 strikeouts in 26 innings.

Woods' fastball has been consistently in the 92-93 mph range and his newly added cutter has late action and has proven to be unhittable for high school players.

"He's a different pitcher than a year ago," Hills East coach Tim Belz said. "He put in the time in the offseason to develop his pitches and get stronger. He added three miles per hour to his fastball and developed a nasty cutter."

Woods struggled with his control a year ago and finished with a 2-2 record, has been spot on in 2013. He's allowed two hits, struck out 52 and walked 16 in 23 innings. Last year, he struck out 51 in 30 innings but walked 35 batters.

"He's become more polished," Belz said. "He's staying ahead of the hitters with much better command. He's got more confidence and become a team leader for us on the mound and at the plate." Woods Jr. is also hitting .424 with a home run and 12 RBIs.

Division's James Bailin had three consecutive no-hit performances in 1997 but one game was shortened to five innings because of the five-inning mercy run rule. New York's governing body does not recognize no-hitters of less than seven innings.

Woods, who will attend Albany on a full athletic scholarship, is looking forward to the MLB draft in June. "I'm very excited about the draft," he said. "We'll see what happens."

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