After watching his teammates finally break a scoreless tie with a run in the sixth inning, Merced ace Mitchell Miller did everything he could to relax.
“My heart started racing,” the Bears senior said. “I made sure to catch my breath and control my breathing. I had to stay within myself and continue to go pitch to pitch.”
Not only did Miller go out and retire Buhach Colony in order to finish off a 1-0 victory, but he also recorded the first no-hitter of his high school career.
“I’m tired,” Miller said. “A game like this is emotionaly and physically exhausting. It doesn’t happen with some clutch plays and great at-bats. Evan (Hanneman) had a great at-bat in that sixth inning.”
The win completed a three-game sweep this week of the Thunder (11-8, 3-4 Central California Conference) for the Bears (6-13, 3-4), who have won five of their last six to pull even with BC for third place in the conference.
As expected, runs were hard to come by on Friday night with Thunder ace Andrew Mitchel and Miller on the mound.
Mitchel threw a gem himself, striking out 12 and giving up only two hits in six innings. However, his sixth walk of the game came back to haunt him.
Nick Camper worked a leadoff walk in the sixth and advanced to second on a wild pitch. It appeared Armando Flores then beat out a bunt single to give Merced runners on the corners with no outs, but Flores was called out for stepping out of the box when he made contact and Camper was forced to retreat to second base.
After a strikeout, Camper advanced to third on an errant throw back to the pitcher. That set the stage for Hanneman, who fouled off three pitches with two strikes before squibbing a soft line drive that fell on the infield and spun away from Buhach Colony first baseman Logan Coe. Hanneman beat out the single and Camper scored to give Merced a 1-0 lead.
“When I hit it, I saw it was a like a little curveball back to the first baseman,” Hanneman said. “Once I saw it bounce around, I knew I was going to beat it out and we were going to be up.”
Miller finished off his dominant performance with a perfect seventh.
How good was Miller?
▪ He struck out 10 hitters and walked one.
▪ He threw only 69 pitches and 54 of them were strikes.
▪ He retired the final 16 hitters in a row and faced the minimum 18 batters.
▪ He had only one three-ball count all night.
“I felt good in the pen before the game and I knew tonight was going to be tough,” Miller said. “I mean you’ve got Andrew Mitchel on the mound for them. I just tried to control what I could control.”
“To be honest, this is what we expect,” said Merced coach Justin Parle. “We’ve come to expect it because we’ve seen it from him. He developed a slider last year and that’s become a big pitch for him. We know he’s capable of this and we know he’s going to take it pitch by pitch.”
Pitman 2, Atwater 1 in Turlock – Omar Sanchez doubled in a run to give the Falcons (10-9, 2-5 CCC) an early lead, but the Pride manufacted runs in the fifth and sixth innings to get the win.
Turlock 12, Golden Valley 1 in Merced – Brandon Booz drove in two runs as the Bulldogs completed a three-game sweep of the Cougars (3-16, 0-7 CCC). Garrett Nishihama had two hits for Golden Valley.
Los Banos 3, Livingston 2 in Los Banos – Chris Corral scattered four hits on his way to complete game victory and Lane Mallonee drove in a pair of runs for the Tigers (12-5-1, 6-2 Western Athletic Conference). Blake Jantz had two hits and a run for the Wolves (10-8, 2-4).
El Capitan 6, Central Valley 4 in Merced – Samuel Mora went 2-for-3 with three RBIs to help the Gauchso improve to 10-8-1 and 6-2 in the WAC.
Dos Palos 15, Tranquillity 0 in Dos Palos – Josh Ramirez pitched a one-hitter and the Broncos cranked out 12 hits.
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.