BERLIN — When opposing coach Bill Wheatly called him over after Monday night’s game the game the last thing 10-year-old Hayden Snelsire expected to hear was congratulations on throwing a no-hitter.
“I was shocked,” Snelsire said. And he wasn’t the only one. Snelsire pitches for the Berlin Little League Yankees in the major league division. He was set to face the Phillies, a team with notoriously hot bats.
Yankees coach Cameron McDonough started the game with some of his best fielders deep in the outfield.
“I put them there thinking [the Phillies] might knock him around a little,” he said. “But he kept them completely off-balance.”
Snelsire is the only fourth-grader in the league and the youngest of only five 10-year-olds in the 11-12-year-old division.
Although he’s proud of his accomplishment, Snelsire credited both his coach and his teammates for his success.
“Our coach usually calls the pitches,” he said. “He’ll call inside or outside and I’m usually pretty good at that.”
He also said that of the five-or-so times the Phillies did get their bats on the ball, the infield came through big, a statement with which McDonough agrees.
“Owen Dennis made an incredible stop at third,” he said. “And Clarke McDonough (the coach’s nephew) and Tyrese Young each made critical plays at first to keep runners off the bases.”
The Phillies did score one run on an error but other than that were unable to solve Snelsire. McDonough credits the pitcher’s savvy as well as his skill. He said that anyone can call pitches but making them is a different story. The coach’s calls are filtered through the catcher. It requires a lot of focus from all involved to both get the call correct and then to execute it.
Wheatly said that Snelsire painted the corners all night keeping the Phillies batters guessing as much at placement as velocity.
“he’s got a terrific change-up,” McDonough said. “His arm speed is identical to when he’s throwing a fastball.”
Although he’s both smaller and younger than most of the other players, Snelsire works out with competing at a higher level in mind. He wanted to move up to the older division this year rather than having to wait for another summer, he said, because he felt like he could compete with the older kids.
According to McDonough, he’s more than held his own. There were other games where he came close to throwing a shutout but, McDonough said, the defense didn’t always hold up.
It held up Monday as the Yankees beat the Phillies 7-1 and Snelsire threw 75 pitches, striking out 10 and walking two.
The success, Snelsire said, takes a bit of the pressure off.
“I thought about this, that I’d like to throw a no-hitter one day,” he said. “I’ve kind of reached a goal and now I have to make another one.”