Old Mill senior pitcher Josh Hader walked the first batter he faced in yesterday's game against Severna Park.
After that, Hader stepped off the mound, settled himself, concentrated on his release point and struck out the next three hitters. They were the first of 14 strikeouts as Hader used his 88-mph fastball and a tempting curve to secure a 4-0, no-hit shutoutagainst No. 8 Severna Park.
The win gave No. 12 Old Mill a two-game lead among Anne Arundel County teams and improved the Patriots' record to 13-1. Severna Park is 7-4.
"When Josh is throwing well and on, you're pretty comfortable," Old Mill coach Jeff Martin said. "And Josh has been pretty good all year. He's gone 13 innings now without giving up a hit. He's been phenomenal, really. He's 7-0 and we're playing good defense."
Hader shared a no-hitter earlier this season against South River and has had two one-hitters. He also had an earned run average that registered 0.56 before yesterday's game.
But this is the first no-hitter Hader can call his own.
"It's overwhelming," Hader said, after his 87-pitch performance. "I had my fastball working and the curveball on top of that. It was definitely exciting. I knew from the beginning what was happening, but I didn't want it to get in my mind."
When anything went even a little wrong, his defense was ready to back him up. Center fielder Abel Arocho made a great sliding, outstretched catch on a fly ball to end the third inning. First baseman Zack Baker was sure-handed on throws from shortstop Brent Orbell, second baseman Michael Bohle and third baseman Evan Shaffer. And right fielder Guy Wharton caught a dangerous fly ball in the seventh.
"[Severna Park's pitcher Rhyan Karr] had hard luck," Hader said. "It definitely hyped me up knowing I had the defense behind me — that they had my back."
Karr was doing his job well. The senior threw a three-hitter and didn't allow an earned run before being relieved in the top of the seventh. Old Mill's Brian Ratzburg (single) and Brian Weller both scored in the third inning when the defense made two errors, and Weller and Michael Bohle (single) scored in the fifth courtesy of an error. fHader had Old Mill's only other hit.
"Mistakes are going to happen," Severna Park senior catcher Brandon Cavil said. "Rhyan pitched a good game. I think the biggest thing for us was we weren't swinging the bats the way we should have. He [Hader] opened up with a fastball every single time. We just weren't swinging the bat. But we're young . . . As we go further, we'll get better."
The lack of defense, however, was a major irritant to Severna Park coach Bob Felts, who referred questions to assistant coach Jeff Karr.
"Hader is a good pitcher and we didn't make adjustments," Karr said. "We had the error at second and we've worked on that pick off all year. We don't have experience; we don't have the big hitters we've had in the past; and we're still trying to figure out who we are."