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.
Gladiators first baseman Dylan Waddell also made a series of nice picks throughout the game to keep Scorpion runners off the base paths.
After Hammond's 5-1 win over previously undefeated Marriotts Ridge, also on Wednesday, Oakland Mills (8-0) is now the last undefeated team in Howard County.
Last year, Oakland Mills won 11 games for its best season since 2006, when it tied a school record with 13 wins.
"We want to stay healthy, we want to do things the right way, and hopefully we'll be peaking at the end of the season," Rau said. "Even though we're undefeated I tell the kids everyday: we still haven't played our best baseball yet. We haven't put together a full game yet, defense, offense and pitching."
The 2012 Scorpions started 9-4, but lost six of their last eight games.
"Now we know how to win," Zayatz said. "This team knows how to win and we apply it on the field. We pick each other up."
After winning 19 games last season, and returning four all-county players, Glenelg was a preseason favorite to win the Howard County league.
"Preseason predictions don't mean much, we've got to start earning our stripes," Boteler said. "The key for us is going to be keeping our heads up and still believing we're a talented, good ball club."
OM (5-0, 8-0) 001 000 0 - 1 5 0
G (3-3, 5-5) 000 000 0 - 0 1 1
Zayatz and Hale. Dubbe and Southern.
2B: OM — Hale.
Around the league
Atholton 5, Reservoir 3
The Raiders are on a roll, winning their fourth game in a row Wednesday, 5-3, against Reservoir.
Reservoir scored three runs in the top of the first to take a quick lead, but Atholton scored twice in each of the first two innings to reclaim the lead for good.
Dan McCann threw 80 pitches without walking a batter in the complete game victory, and was 2-for-2 with a walk. Brady Acker tripled, singled twice, scored twice and made nine put outs in center field.
Hammond 5, Marriotts Ridge 1
Derek Sicca threw a complete game four-hitter to lead Hammond past previously undefeated Marriotts Ridge.
Mt. Hebron 16, Centennial 10
Mt. Hebron batted around in the first inning, setting the tone for a scoring bonanza at Centennial. Jacob Meyer led off the game with a double and Peter Turner (2 RBIs) doubled in the No. 9 spot before Meyer singled for his second hit of the first inning. The Vikings eventually scored 12 first inning runs, but Centennial later posted a five-run inning to make a game of it.
Meyer (2 runs), Jake Snyder (3 runs), Marty Stevenson (2 RBIs) and Matt Ansaldi (2 RBIs, 2 runs) each had two hits for Mt. Hebron, and Sean Kelly also scored twice.
Centennial's Brandon Feuerman was a home run away from the cycle.
River Hill 15, Wilde Lake 6
Tommy Mee and Jack Quade each doubled, and Kris Hines and Nick Wright each had three hits as part of Wilde Lake's 14-hit outing, but River Hill made the most out of its nine hits to win, 15-6.