One didn’t need to see the standings to know how big Monday’s Suffolk I baseball game between Patchogue-Medford and Sachem East was. All they had to do was listen.
Josh Knoth’s fastball popped Patchogue-Medford catcher Bryan Frascogna’s mitt a little louder than usual. The sound of Knoth’s pitches whistling through the air was a touch more audible. And then there was the exasperated exhales from the Sachem East hitters as they flailed at the break of Knoth’s devastating slider.
The three-game regular season series will almost certainly determine the Suffolk I champion and this first game was a moment made for the Raiders’ junior ace. The righthanded Knoth pitched a one-hit shutout with no walks and 13 strikeouts as Patchogue-Medford prevailed 3-0 at Sachem East’s Bill Batewell Field.
“This is a series we talk about all through the season,” Knoth said. “We knew they’d be here at the end of the season and I was looking forward to the challenge.”
Knoth brought the potent lineup of Sachem East (13-4, 13-3) lineup – headlined by Nick Oelcher and Richie Heyder – to a virtual standstill. Oelcher hit a bouncer in the hole between third base and shortstop to start the bottom of the second inning and it went for the only hit. Knoth retired the last 18 batters he faced.
“He usually gets it going in the second or third inning and then it just flows,” catcher Bryan Frascogna said. “He finds it and then he just rolls.”
“When I get there, I feel like no one can stop me,” Knoth said.
True, but it wasn’t exactly like the Raiders (14-3, 13-2) could do much with Sachem East starter Matt Guido either. For five innings the lefthander went zero-for-zero with Knoth. Patchogue-Medford finally broke through with one out in the sixth when it loaded the bases on consecutive singles by Robbie Melo, Knoth and Jayden Kennedy. Zach Papnikolatos drew a four-pitch walk to plate the first run and Frankie Kentoffio followed with a run-scoring single that ended up bringing in two when it was misplayed in the outfield.
“[Knoth] can win 1-0, but at 3-0 it feels like it’s close to over,” Kentoffio said.
Guido allowed the two earned runs on six hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
Knoth has committed to College of Charleston, but one has to wonder if he might get drafted before that happens. The Raiders’ Anthony Frascogna has coached Cubs righthander Marcus Stroman and Orioles Triple-A righty Matt Vogel and sees similarities in Knoth, who also has pitched a perfect game this season.
“Josh compares well with where they were as juniors,” he said. “He throws harder than they did and his slider is right up there with those guys. He’s different from Marcus in that he’s a traditional righthander. Marcus was an incredible athlete who could have been drafted as an infielder. But I could see it all happening the same way for Josh.”