EDITOR'S UPDATE: It has since been discovered that the last Livingston no-hitter was thrown in 1993 by then-senior Eric Rothfeld, who gave up one unearned run in a 2-1 victory over Cedar Grove, but struck out seven batters to earn the win.
LIVINGSTON, NJ — Throwing the first seven-inning no-hitter in 31 years for the Livingston High School (LHS) baseball team during what was only his first career start as a varsity pitcher, sophomore MJ DePaola has been named Dr. Michael Rieber’s Livingston Athlete of the Week.
According to head coach Mickey Ennis, DePaola had not been feeling well in the days leading up the game against Verona on April 13. However, the sophomore pushed through and not only led the team to an 8-0 victory, but also accomplished the first complete-game no-hitter since current LHS educator Thomas Garzon did it in 1986.
“The fact that he wasn’t feeling well, the fact that he’s only a sophomore, the fact that it was the first start of his career and the fact that it hasn’t been done in 31 years all leads up to a pretty remarkable performance for MJ DePaola,” said Ennis. “What I’m really impressed with is how he handled the pressure in that moment as a young pitcher.”
With six strikeouts and one walk throughout his seven-inning performance, DePaola threw only 88 pitches—which is relatively low for a seven-inning game, Ennis said. He added that the team is excited to see what he does on the mound in future games and in the next two years of his high school baseball career.
“He carved out a spot in the pitching rotation during the pre-season—he may very well have been our most productive pitcher during the pre-season,” said Ennis. “All indications showed us that he was going to be, at the very least, one of our top three pitchers and was going to be a mainstay in the rotation. He earned that during the course of the pre-season.”
Ennis said once it was determined that DePaola felt well enough to pitch against Verona, he was expecting a strong outing from DePaola but never imagined a no-hitter in his first start. He also said he and the other coaches always knew DePaola was a physically gifted athlete, but were especially impressed by the mental toughness he showed on the mound that day.
Livingston High School Athlete of the Week is brought to you by Michael Rieber MD, Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Orthopedic Consultant, NJ Devils and Director of the St. Barnabas Sports Medicine Institute. Find out more about Dr. Rieber at www.gamedaydoc.com.