By Phil Anastasia
John Murphy made 89 pitches on Wednesday.
He only wanted one back.
"I got too much of the plate," Murphy said of the fastball in the seventh inning of a Tri-County Conference inter-division game against Delsea.
There were two outs. Murphy had a 1-2 count on Crusaders sophomore centerfielder Greg Avis.
With one more strike, Murphy would have finished a no-hitter.
But Avis took the pitch the other way, slapping a clean single to left field, and Murphy settled for a one-hit masterpiece and a 2-0 victory at Joe Barth Field.
"I was a little disappointed," Murphy said. "I thought I had it (the no-hitter)."
A sophomore right-hander, Murphy struck out nine and walked three, all on 3-2 pitches. He also hit a batter.
In a taut, well-played game that took just 85 minutes, Delsea sophomore right-hander Joe Brewin worked five strong innings. Relying heavily on a sharp curveball, he allowed two runs on six hits with no walks.
"He's not the biggest kid but he's a gamer," Delsea coach Tom Carney said of Brewin. "He doesn't fear anything."
Gloucester Catholic (13-1), the No. 1 team in The Inquirer Top 10, broke a scoreless tie with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Sean Breen led off with an infield single and Phil Dickinson dropped a bunt single. After an infield out, Tim Holder delivered a two-run single.
"Give their kid credit," Gloucester Catholic coach Mike Rucci said of Brewin. "He was throwing 2-0 breaking balls, 1-0 breaking balls and throwing them for strikes. He kept us off-balance."
The game's suspense build as Murphy, a 6-4 athlete from Merchantville, powered through the Delsea lineup in pursuit of his first career no-hitter.
"He pitched excellent," Gloucester Catholic catcher John Theckston said of Murphy. "He was hitting every spot."
Murphy displayed great command of his fastball as well as his curveball. He said he mixed in around four or five change-ups.
"He's legit," Carney said of Murphy.
Murphy retired 12 in a row through the middle of the game. He issued his third walk with no outs in the seventh, then struck out the next two batters and jumped ahead of Avis.
"I'm frustrated because I probably should have called a breaking ball," said Rucci, who called for a fastball from the Rams' dugout.
When Avis' hit landed safely in left field, Murphy stood on the mound and smiled. He got a high-five from senior second baseman Derek DeMaria before finishing the game.
"It's baseball," Murphy said. "It happens. I'm just glad we won the game."
Delsea 000 000 0 -- 0 1 2
Gloucester Catholic 000 020 x -- 2 6 0
WP: John Murphy. LP: Joe Brewin.
2B: GC-Mike Garafolo.
Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.