Gloucester Catholic baseball coach Dennis Barth has faced nationally ranked teams and at least one pitcher projected to be selected in the first round of June's major-league draft, so he knows talent when seen up close.
On Saturday, Barth had more than enough of a look at Millville's Andrew Biggs, and the veteran coach didn't enjoy the view.
The senior righthander allowed three hits and struck out 13 as Millville defeated Gloucester Catholic, 4-0, in the opening round of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic at Maple Shade.
"He made us look like a Little League team," Barth said of the 6-foot-1, 175-pound righthander. "We haven't looked this bad, and that young man deserves a lot of credit."
A Delaware State recruit, Biggs has been watched this spring by a large number of major-league scouts. Whether he is drafted or not, Biggs is a formidable figure.
Somehow he has lost two games, one in relief, but both defeats were due to unearned runs.
Even more impressive than his dominating senior year is the way he carries himself, according to coach Roy Hallenbeck.
"He's a great kid and I love him," Hallenbeck said.
Hallenbeck admitted that the two nearly clashed in the seventh inning.
"We almost had our first player-coach fight," Hallenbeck said, laughing.
The argument was about finishing what he had started.
The competitive bulldog in Biggs didn't want to leave the game when Hallenbeck made the suggestion. So there was a compromise.
"If he allowed one baserunner in the seventh, he was out," Hallenbeck said.
It never happened, so Biggs ended by throwing 119 pitches and the complete game. And he didn't appear to lose any velocity in the late innings. "I felt strong and wanted to do whatever it took to help my team win," Biggs said.
That also meant knocking in the first run with a single up the middle in the third. The second run scored on a double play in the same inning, and that was enough.
Millville tacked on two in the sixth against freshman righthander John Murphy, who was strong in a complete-game effort.
"When I found out he was a freshman, I was really impressed," Biggs said. "He threw great."
Imagine what others were saying about Biggs.
There was no radar gun, but his fastball was plenty fast and his off-speed pitches were keeping the Rams off balance.
What is scary is that he hasn't totally refined his main off-speed pitch, a combination slider and curve, also known as a slurve.
"That pitch is something that he has to keep working on," Hallenbeck said.
And while refining that pitch, he still has enough to dominate on this level.
One of the ways Biggs prepared for this season was by long-tossing with Mike Trout, the 2009 Inquirer South Jersey player of the year from Millville, who entered Saturday hitting .317 for the Los Angeles Angels since being recalled from the minors.
"It was great to be able to work out with Mike," Biggs said.
Actually, it helped Trout, too. "Mike needed somebody who could reach him throwing long-toss," Hallenbeck said. "It worked out well for both of them."
Biggs, who plays second and third base when not pitching, was even more excited to beat Gloucester Catholic, ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by The Inquirer last season and the two-time defending state champion.
The Rams (17-4) now are ranked No. 3; Millville (13-4) is No. 5.
"Gloucester Catholic has such a great reputation, and it's great to win over such a great program," Biggs said.
And it takes a great pitcher to beat the Rams - one on an even higher level to shut them out.
Gloucester Catholic 000 000 0 - 0 3 2
Millville 002 002 x - 4 7 1
WP: Andrew Biggs. LP: John Murphy. 2B: GCPat Kane; MEmilo Santiago, Tyler Klawitter.
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