SEMINOLE — It’s funny how baseball rules dictate you don’t talk about a no-hitter when your pitcher has one going.
Instead, you look the other way, sit on the other end of the bench, don’t say a word.
Kind of gives it away, no?
“I started thinking about it in the fifth inning,” said Seminole senior right-hander Nick Nolan said Tuesday. “Nobody was talking to me in the dugout, so I knew I had one going.”
But rules are rules, and not a word was uttered until Nolan got Darren Peterson to pop up to short rightfield, completing his first career no-hitter in a 4-0 triumph over the Pinellas Park.
Nolan, who retired the final 17 batters he faced, struck out seven to lead the Warhawks to a big Class 7A, District 10 victory.
“He did everything right,” said catcher Michael Mann. “He had all three pitches working tonight, and he wasn’t afraid to throw the change or the curveball when he was down two or three balls in the count.”
The upstart Patriots (8-3) entered with a five-game wining streak under first-year coach Pat Russo, and were just a few games removed from their own no-hitter by Evan Graves.
But ace Brandon Grigsby struggled with an aggressive Seminole lineup.
Alex McGathey led off with a single on a 2-0 pitch, and two pitches later Scott Withrow (3-for-4) doubled him in and took third on an error. A Corey Baptist groundout made it 2-0 after one, and the second inning didn’t go much better. Jacob Silverstein walked, stole second and scored on Withrow’s second hit, making it 3-0.
Seminole (9-2) got five of its 11 hits and drew two walks in the first two innings.
“The first four at-bats were probably the best we could have asked for,” said Seminole coach Jeff Pincus.
That was plenty for Nolan, who has won all five of his starts this season.
He didn’t start the game with his best curveball, but after abandoning it a few innings, went back to it late and rode it home.
“I didn’t have my best stuff in the bullpen and the curveball wasn’t there, so I started throwing changeups and that really got me going,” said Nolan, who throws his fastball in the high 80s. “Then I went back to it and it was on fire.”
Nolan went to a three-ball count on five hitters, and only once failed to get the batter out — in the second inning, when Austin Berry drew a walk after being behind 1-2.
Otherwise, no one came close to reaching base except for Daniel McHenry and Josh Dallas.
McHenry hit a chopper into the hole at short, and Dallas almost used his speed to beat out a grounder. But McGathey, the shortstop, made two nice plays and strong throws to preserve the no-hitter.
Nolan unofficially threw 94 pitches, 65 for strikes. His last seven pitches were either strikes or hit into play.
“When Nick is throwing and spotting his fastball that well, and you can work his hook and his changeup off that, it was relatively easy tonight (to call the pitches),” said Seminole assistant Ira Berman.