Later, Will faced Nick in a PONY League game at Funkhouser Park. It was a chilly night and Nick was throwing a no-hitter. Will broke up the no-hitter with a single up the middle late in the game. It was the only hit of the night as Nick struck out about 14 batters that night, including Will a couple of times.
Last year, when Nick made it to the major leagues, I called Will on his cell phone and said, "Will, now you can tell your grandchildren you broke up a no-hitter from a future major leaguer."
Nick was that kind of athlete.
When word broke Thursday morning that Nick had been killed in a car accident in California, I didn't want to believe it.
Here was this gifted young man who the night before had started a game for the Los Angeles Angels, and then this.
It's never easy when a young person loses his life. Especially when it's a kid you watched grow up. I didn't know his family personally, but I can only imagine what they are going through.
My prayers go out to them.
Nick was a phenom.
There were hundreds of kids playing baseball in the leagues around Hagerstown when Nick was growing up, but he stood out among all of them. I remember him being a good hitter and a fierce competitor, but oh, that arm.
Watching him pitch was like watching a virtuoso on the piano. He was that good. Even at 11, I couldn't believe the velocity he could generate from his lean and lanky body. It didn't seem fair to the batters who had to face him.
And this doesn't seem fair.
Very few of our players ever make it to the big leagues. You can practically name them on one hand. And now this.
Keeping track of his career was like watching one of our own sons climb through the ranks. We rooted for him.
Nick made it to the big leagues and was destined for greatness.
This is a hard pill to swallow.
But, I always will remember. We all will.
Tony Mulieri is the Herald-Mail's community editor. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7647, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.