SEATTLE -- The ninth-inning at-bat Tuesday night in which Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger broke up a combined no-hitter by the Marlins with a double off Kyle Barraclough wasn't just a clutch one-out hit against a hard-throwing pitcher in dramatic circumstances.As it turns out, it also was a nostalgic moment
SEATTLE -- The ninth-inning at-bat Tuesday night in which Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger broke up a combined no-hitter by the Marlins with a double off Kyle Barraclough wasn't just a clutch one-out hit against a hard-throwing pitcher in dramatic circumstances.
As it turns out, it also was a nostalgic moment for two Bay Area kids who knew quite a bit about each other.
"It was definitely unordinary, the way it unfolded like that," Haniger said with a laugh.
These two players, who clashed with history on the line in the Marlins' 5-0 victory over Seattle, played together as high schoolers on a travel ball team called the Santa Clara (Calif.) Palomino Red Sox. They knew each other going back to Little League, and they were both drafted by big league clubs in 2012.
"He's always been really good," said Haniger, who believes that he faced Barraclough a few times as teenagers and maybe once in college -- Haniger played at Cal Poly and Barraclough at St. Mary's -- but never in pro ball until Tuesday. "He's got great stuff."
Barraclough entered the game in the ninth after Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen had pitched a no-hitter for seven innings, exiting after throwing 100 pitches. Brad Ziegler threw a perfect eighth. After Barraclough retired pinch-hitter Mike Freeman in the ninth, his old buddy strode to the plate, and moments later, the no-no was a no-go on a 2-1 fastball that Haniger crushed into the gap in right-center field.
"If I was going to give it up to someone, it's good to kind of help a friend out, I guess," Barraclough said with a smile afterward.
"I don't know if I'm pitching with a one-run lead that he's getting [that pitch], but I tip my cap," Barracloughh said. "I didn't think it was that bad of a pitch. He did a really good job. He stayed on it and went the other way with it, and you could tell by the way we were shifting him that he doesn't hit the ball that way very often. So I tip my cap to him. I'm disappointed that we didn't get the no-no, but we still got the win."
Even though Haniger knew Barraclough, he didn't necessarily know what to expect.
"When I used to face him, we were a lot younger," Haniger said. "He's changed, and I think I've changed a lot as a hitter, too. Going into that at-bat, I knew he had a great slider and his fastball gets on guys. … I knew going up there I had to lock it in and try to win the battle."
After the game, Barraclough shot Haniger a text. He wrote, "Great swing. Why'd you have to do that to me?"
Haniger wrote back, "Look, man. You've got great stuff. You've got a 1 ERA for a reason."
After Tuesday's game, Ziegler had a different take on Barraclough's fateful fastball.
"If he's known him that long," the veteran reliever said with a wry grin, "he should have known better."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.