By: Chris Ginley
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio– Stellar pitching was on display on another chilly day in April, as three Elyria Catholic pitcher combined to throw a team no-hitter against the Rocky River Pirates. A combination of stellar pitching and clutch hitting got the Panthers to their 26th straight conference win.
It was all Panthers today as their offense got rolling early. Leadoff hitter Leighton Banjoff got on base after getting hit by a pitch followed by a bloop single by Ryan Strittmather. Brendan Holley got both of those runners in on a triple to the gap between right and center field on the first pitch he saw to put the Panthers up 2-0 early in the game. In the top of the second, the Panthers went right back to work, as the leadoff hitter got on base for the second straight inning, and taking advantage of the Pirates defensive miscues, tacked on another unearned run via a throwing error by Rocky River to put the score at 4-0.
Rocky River starting pitcher Ross Hartman had a rough outing today. He had a hard time throwing his pitches for strikes and throwing three balls to three of the first four batters he faced.
“From the start of the game, we wanted to compete with them,” said Rocky River Head Coach Daryl Sanders. “They got off to a hot start, we made mistakes and they took advantage of them.”
The Panthers extended their lead to 5-0 on an RBI single to left field in the top of the third. Hartman applied a heads-up tag, off of an assist from catcher Joey Pike, to an Elyria Catholic player that tried to steal home to end the Panther threat in the third.
Elyria Catholic’s starting pitcher, who threw the first five innings of the combined no-hitter, continued his strong start, buy setting down 11 if the first 12 hitters that he faced and did not allow a runner to reach past first base in the first four innings. Elyria Catholic Head Coach Bruce Lisicky had this to say about the run support for the team today, “It was good that we were aggressive and pt the ball in play today to give our pitchers the confidence to pitch.”
Just when it looked like it was going to be an easy 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth for the Pirates, more errors and defensive miscues allowed Elyria Catholic to continue their heads-up base running and push their lead to 6-0. Grant McClure continued the Panthers’ heavy hitting in the top of the fifth, as he roped a laser over the head of Rocky River left fielder Cameron Blue to increase the Panthers’ lead to 7-0, and score Jack Walsh, who hit a gapper of his own for a double.
It looked like Rocky River was about to get out of the inning with the bases loaded and two outs, but they allowed Elyria Catholic to tack on two more runs to push their lead to 9-0 at the end of the fifth.
Blue came on to pitch in relief in the top of the sixth inning and struck out the first four hitters he faced, which was the only bright spot for the Pirated in this game. The final three innings was the only bright spot for the Pirates offense, as they worked the count and got on base via multiple walks and even loaded the bases in the seventh inning, but it was all for naught, as Elyria Catholic’s Deion Kurtz and Andre Rodriguez pitched in relief in the sixth and seventh innings to seal the victory and the combined no-hitter, respectively.
“Early season wins like this gives us confidence. One or two losses usually means second place in this conference,” said Lisicky after the win.
These two teams will play again on Thursday at Elyria Catholic.