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Towson's no-hit ace makes it 3 in row; At 19, Gardner sets state high school mark


Catonsville coach Doug Campbell said Towson's Andre Gardner was "awesome" after the latter's Maryland public high school record third consecutive no-hitter yesterday.

Gardner, a 19-year-old fifth-year senior whose only varsity experience before this season was a 2-0 record in the second half of last year, struck out 18 and walked three in a 6-1 victory over Catonsville.

"I was very impressed," said Campbell, whose Comets (7-4) went into the game tied with the Generals (12-2) at one loss each in county league action.

"He started with a really good fastball, but couldn't get his curve over the first couple innings. When he started getting the breaking pitch over, he was practically unhittable. He's definitely the best we've seen this year."

Gardner's three no-hitters also set a state public school season record and tied the Maryland record for career no-hitters thrown by J.M. Bennett's Al Beckett In 1971 and 1972.

Former Calvert Hall left-hander Andy Bair, who was 30-0 in his high school career, 22-0 in three varsity seasons including 9-0 with an 0.11 ERA in his senior year (1995), holds the overall Maryland record for varsity career no-hitters at seven.

The national record for consecutive no-hitters is six by Chris Taranto of Biloxl, Miss., in 1961. Bair was ony two shy of Taranto's national career record of nine.

"I guess that puts Andre in some pretty special company, "said Towson coach Bill Yosca.

"He doesn't try to blow the ball by People, but moves his fastball up, in and out and his breaking pitches are sharp. As the game went on yesterday, his teammates were hush-hush in the dugout until the last inning when they started cheering on every pitch.

With one out in the seventh yesterday, Gardner, who is 4-1 with 67 strikeouts, seven walks and 14 hits in 32 2/3 innings, lssued his third walk. The runner advanced to third on two passed balls and scored on a dropped fly ball.

Catonsville's Andy Bloom lofted a high fly to deep right that Jim Lundquist had trouble tracking before getting to the ball, only to have it hit in his glove and out for an error.

"It started out to be a tough play, but he got to it and ended up facing the infield before dropping it, "said Campbell, the Catonsville coach. "It was clearly an error."

Following the play, Yosca made a trip to the mound to talk to Gardner.

"I was nervous, but Coach settled me down and, I struck out the last two batters, said Gardner, who has committed to Essex Community College and veteran coach George Henderson.

"Coach Henderson talked to me last year after seeing me pitch in the playoffs. That's where I'm going unless I get a chance to sign [pro]."

In his two previous starts on April 14 and April 26, the 5-foot-11 and 165-pound Gardner threw a perfect game with 15 strikeouts, including nine in a row in an 11-0 win over Pikesville.

Gardner followed that up with a five-inning, 10-0 rout of Woodlawn, missing his second straight perfect game when a runner reached on a third-strike passed ball after one of his 15 strikeouts.

Overall in the three gems, Gardner has struck out 48 in 18 innings, Walked three and yielded only one run (unearned).

His next start will be either Friday at Dundalk or Tuesday at home against No. 10-ranked Liberty (11-2).

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