Throwing a no-hitter is something few baseball players get to experience at any level of the game. It is a difficult feat to accomplish because fielders have to make plays, the pitcher has to throw strikes and other breaks throughout the game have to go the pitcher’s way.
For Hempfield Black’s Camden Hess, Friday night was one of those nights.
Hess shut down the Manheim Lions for seven innings and got plenty of offensive help as Hempfield Black topped the Lions, 8-0, in their New Era Junior-Midget Tournament quarterfinal at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.
In Friday night’s first game, Rheems Gray topped Cocalico, 11-1, in five innings. The winners will square off back at Kunkle Field Monday in a semifinal contest after the 6 p.m. matchup of the Mountville Angels and SWS White Sox.
The story of the night was Hess, who got a big boost from his offense before he even took the field.
In the top of the first inning, Hempfield scored three runs, taking advantage of consecutive hits from Anthony Dornes, Cory Gantz and Nicholas Yarnall to start the game. Gantz drove in Dornes to make it 1-0, and Yarnall’s single scored Gantz to make it 2-0 before Manheim recorded an out.
After a Hess ground out and a single by Nolan Myers, Jared Pestcoe slapped a single to score Yarnall.
The 3-0 lead was all Hess would need.
“It relieved me a lot to know my offense had my back,” Hess said of being spotted the 3-0 lead. “It allowed me to play my game and throw strikes. It allowed me to be aggressive.
“I knew it was going to be harder to hit with wooden bats,” he added, noting the junior-midget tournament’s decision to eschew aluminum for wood this year. “So I just tried to throw strikes, to get them to swing and miss.”
“As the season’s been going on, Camden’s been getting stronger,” Hempfield head coach Bob Gantz said. “He had a good fastball and a slider he threw really well tonight.”
Hess struck out nine and walked three for the game. And it took some help from his defense in the final innings to close out the no-hitter.
“I think most of the guys knew what was going on with the no-hitter so they knew they had to give it up in that last inning,” Gantz said. “Our center fielder Dornes made a heck of a play (in the seventh).”
With one out, Manheim’s Trey Eberly sent a sinking liner into center, but Dornes dove to grab it, leaving Hess one out away from the no-hitter. He got Manheim’s J.J. Sanchez to ground out to first to close it out.
In the first game of the evening, Rheems Gray scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to invoke the 10-run rule. But they built up an 8-1 lead before that, behind third baseman Cameron Yancey.
Yancey went 3-for-3 with 3 RBIs to pace the Rheems offense. After singles his first two times up, Yancey smacked a two-run home run to right field.
“It was an outside fastball,” Yancey said of the home run pitch. “I was just seeing the ball and getting good swings down.”
“We knew it would be a different situation with the wooden bats this year,” Rheems head coach Allen Toth said. “We put a lot of emphasis on hitting, hitting line drives and I think it paid off.”
It helped to have the pitching to go with it. Starting pitcher Josh Wilkinson went five innings, holding Cocalico to just one run to earn the win.