When it comes to pitching efficiency, you can't get much better than this.
Barnstable junior righthander Riley Ashe tossed a no-hitter in a 6-1 win over Falmouth yesterday in just his second varsity start, striking out three and needing just 63 pitches -- count that, 63 -- to accomplish the feat. On top of that, Ashe threw just 18 balls total, with no walks.
"He was just throwing strikes, the pitch selection was incredible," Red Raiders head coach Joe DeMartino said. "Our catcher Jack Harrington called a fantastic game. He went to a full count on the second hitter of the first inning, and never went beyond two balls [in a count] the rest of the way -- and he only threw two balls to three more guys."
That stands in stark contrast to past pitching performances. A year ago at this time, the Raiders sparked a bit of controversy across the state and beyond when staff ace Willie Nastasi, now a freshman at UConn, threw 155 pitches in a 16-strikeout, three-hit win over Taunton.
One thing is clear: DeMartino lets his pitchers pitch, because they come in all shapes and sizes. Whereas Nastasi was an overpowering fireballer at 6-foot-5, with leg power built for the long haul, Ashe relies more on precision with his wiry 6-foot, 170-pound frame. In his first start of the season, a win over rival Dennis-Yarmouth, Ashe needed only 80 pitches to go the distance, striking out two.
Averaging nine pitches per inning yesterday against Falmouth, and using just two pitches -- his fastball, and a slurve -- Ashe threw consistently to contact, with 11 outs coming on fly balls. He also benefited from a staunch defense -- three of those 11 fly-outs were diving catches in the outfield, including the game-ending dive from leftfielder Ryan Litchman. UMass-bound centerfielder Dylan Morris also recorded seven putouts in the winning effort.
So what's Ashe's secret? It may lie in an unorthodox motion that hides his pitches late, dropping his throwing arm then coming up and over with what looks a high arm slot.
"He throws 83-84, he's not gonna really blow you away but it's sneaky quick because he hides it well," DeMartino said. "Guys were out in front, popping it up or hitting weak grounders."