Loyola's Brett Smagala said he "thought I was dreaming" after hitting a seventh-inning home run yesterday in an improbable day of pitching, hitting and defense in his first start as a pitcher.
Smagala, an All-Metro pick, pitched a no-hitter to lead the Dons to a 9-0 victory over host St. Paul's in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game.
His home run also ignited a four-run seventh inning for the Dons (7-6, 6-3) over the seventh-ranked Crusaders (12-4, 6-2).
Going primarily with a fastball, changeup and curve, Smagala struck out five batters, walked three, did not allow a hit and faced only three batters over the minimum (21).
Smagala, going 1-for-2 with two walks, also was part of an eight-hit attack that chased Crusaders ace left-hander Brian Perkins (4-1).
"I was like, what the heck is going on here?" the senior right-handed pitcher said about his home run in the seventh . "I mean, what the heck am I doing?"
Loyola's fifth straight win ended a five-game winning streak for the Crusaders .
Mike Naylor went 2-for-4, with three RBIs and a run scored, Ryan Nawrocki had a bases-empty home run, Jeff Rodgers was 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored, and Will Cromwell was 2-for-4 with an RBI double and run scored.
"We came in confident, knowing we could hit their guy," Naylor said. "People sort of kicked us aside when we were 1-3, but we believe in ourselves and our coaches."
But the day belonged to Smagala, whom assistant coach Joe Orsulak said "wasn't even a consideration" for the bullpen at the beginning of the the season .
"All season, it's been like a tryout camp for our pitchers, and today, he got his shot and wasn't afraid," said Orsulak. "The coaches came to me about a month into the season and said, 'When are you going to start pitching?' said Smagala. "My response was, probably halfway through the year."
Smagala also relied on his defense, the most stellar of whichwas shortstop Chris Kaiser with six assists, and which picked off one runner in a rundown.
Smagala helped to preserve the shutout in the sixth with two outs and a runner on third base.
Smagala's wild pitch had gotten by his catcher, Adam Schlenoff. But Smagala covered home plate as the runner tried to score, and Schlenoff recovered, hustling the ball back to the pitcher for the tag and the final out of the inning.
Smagala said he didn't have his best stuff in the seventh -- "I was just lobbing it in there, like, 70 miles an hour," he said -- yet was able to retire the side on a strikeout and consective grounders to Kaiser.
"When it's going good, it's going good, I guess," Smagala said. "Adam called a great game, and I couldn't ask for better defense from our guys. But I realize something like this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing that'll never to happen to me again."