The No. 3 seeded South Side Cyclones came into its opening, Class A best-of-three semifinal matchup with No. 16 Plainedge on Wednesday riding a 13-game win streak and all the momentum in the world.
But as Hall of Fame coach Earl Weaver once said, momentum is only as good as the next game's starting pitcher, and Plainedge had just the right one to stop South Side dead in its tracks.
Red Devils left-handed ace Tyler Manez tossed a dazzling 103-pitch, complete game no-hitter with 13 strikeouts to hand South Side an 8-0 loss — their first defeat in 13 games. Manez had his entire arsenal of pitches working, mixing in a high-octane fastball with a biting curveball that had Cyclones hitters off balance the entire game.
Manez gave up only three walks, and South Side never had a runner make it past first base.
"He did a great job mixing it up," Head Coach Keith Lessuk said. "They didn't know what was coming at them. They had a hard time catching the fastball and were fooled by the curveball."
South Side fell into an early 3-0 hole in the first inning after starter Ed Farington was hit hard by the top of the Red Devils lineup. He threw 31 pitches in the inning, giving up five hits and three runs. With one out in the second, Farington gave up three consecutive hits as Plainedge tacked on another two runs for a 5-0 lead.
Farington settled down after that, allowing only two more hits through his final three innings. Joel Ramirez came on in relief in the sixth and gave up three hits and two runs to give Plainedge a 7-0 lead, and the Red Devils added one more in the seventh against Louis Matarazzo.
Lessuk said he told his team they needed to let the game go, and concentrate on returning serve in the second game of the series today at Plainedge.
"I told them, 'Try to let it be, forget about it and move on,'" he said. "It's something that's not easy to do."
South Side will play Game 2 of the series today at Plainedge at 4:30 p.m.