The first pitch that came out of Joe Zayatz's hand on Wednesday afternoon at Glenelg was ripped off the bat of Gladiators leadoff hitter Luke Brister toward right-center field.
Oakland Mills second baseman Cody Thomas dove and snagged the line drive for the out, and Zayatz was ready to go.
"Cody's play just made me relax, loosened me up a little bit," said Zayatz, who pitched undefeated Oakland Mills to a 1-0 win at Glenelg (5-5) Wednesday. It was Oakland Mills' first win against Glenelg since April 29 of 2009.
It wasn't until the bottom of the seventh that Glenelg did actually punch a hit through against Zayatz.
In that inning, sophomore shortstop Anthony Bowman led off with a single to center field, then advanced to second on a sac bunt by Alex Melcher. Zayatz hit the next batter to put the winning run on base, but then pitched his way out of the jam with his ninth and tenth strikeouts of the game.
"I just knew I had to get a punch out, at least one," said Zayatz, who threw about 110 pitches and faced only 25 batters. "I got that first one that made me relax a little bit."
Bowman's seventh inning single broke up a streak of ten consecutive Glenelg batters retired.
Zayatz had "unbelievable command of the zone, three pitches working — curveball, change up and fastball — throwing them all for strikes. It was one of the best outings I've seen from a high school pitcher," coach Brian Rau said.
Zayatz said that he was unaware of his no-hitter bid, but didn't let it affect his approach.
"Its hard not to (think about it), but once you get on the mound, you just throw and your mind just empties," said Zayatz, who earned all-county honors last year after winning six games with 56 strikeouts in 48 innings with a 1.75 ERA. "I give a lot of credit to their team, they fought … I got a little frustrated sometimes, but I stepped off, cooled off, took a walk, relaxed, trusted my catcher Ben (Hale), and hit my spots."
The Scorpions scored the winning run in the third, when catcher Ben Hale roped a one-out double to left center field, advanced to third on a Zayatz ground out to first, and scored when a grounder off the bat of Kyle Madden-Stricker bounced past Bowman at shortstop.
Bowman is starting at shortstop in place of the injured David Brookhart, one of four Gladiator starters who has missed time this year due to injury. Captain Nick Crabill returned to center field on Wednesday.
Bowman "is a future star, he's just feeling his way into the varsity shortstop position and hitting in the middle of the lineup, and he's not letting the pressure get to him," Glenelg coach Dave Boteler said. "He's going to do big things for us this year."
Glenelg pitcher Logan Dubbe was nearly as good as Zayatz, completing the game with five strikeouts, two walks, and just five hits and the one unearned run allowed.
Zayatz "pitched great," Boteler said. "and it's unfortunate that Logan has to take the loss because he pitched just as well."
"Both pitchers pitched an excellent game, it was just that they happened to make one mistake and we happened to not make a mistake, and that's how we won the game," he said.
Glenelg had runners on first and second with no outs in the third after back-to-back walks, but stranded the tying run at third after a strikeout, fielders choice and infield pop out.
"We had first and second with nobody out and we didn't get a bunt down," Boteler said. "Same thing as yesterday (in a 3-2 loss at Atholton), we're not executing under pressure."
Oakland Mills loaded the bases in the second with two outs — on a Madden-Stricker single, a hit batter and a walk — but Dubbe got a strikeout to get out of the tough spot.