CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake South pitcher Tyler Hall was aware of the situation before returning to the mound in the fifth inning, so he knocked on the dugout bench for his own benefit.
Eleven pitches later, Hall had completed a near-perfect opener for the Gators in a 15-0 nonconference baseball victory over Harlem. Hall did not allow a hit or a walk and struck out six. Harlem’s Devon Walker, who reached on a second-inning error, was the Huskies’ only base runner.
“I had just about everything working,” Hall said. “My off-speed was working, I got my curveball over the plate, my fastball location was really good. Everything was flowing. To not give up a hit is phenomenal. Granted, it’s only five innings, but if I’m pitching a seven-inning game and don’t give up a hit until the sixth inning, that’s pretty darn good, too.”
South shortstop Garrett Bright fielded Walker’s grounder to lead off the second, but he bobbled it, then grabbed and threw to first. Walker was safe on a close play, but was wiped out by a double play with the next batter. Harlem (0-2) lost to Prairie Ridge, 9-1, earlier in the week.
“I didn’t know until the end there that it was a no-hitter and almost a perfect game,” Gators coach Brian Bogda said. “Tyler pitched real well and he used his defense, we made some nice plays for him, too. It’s certainly a performance I want our other younger pitchers to watch and learn from.”
South ripped 19 hits and all 15 runs were earned. Eight Gators had hits and two – right fielder Troy Bittenbender and catcher Casey Oliver – were 4 for 4.
“We started strong at the top of the order and then the bottom came around,” Oliver said. “It was a little hit parade we had going on. Double after double, we kept hitting. It was a really successful game.”
The Gators had four doubles in the second inning and seven for the game. Jake Bigos had two doubles and four RBIs, Max Meitzler and Oliver each had a double and three RBIs. Tommy Gaede had another double and two RBIs, and Bright had two doubles.
“To get 15 runs on the first day, I would have never guessed that,” Bogda said. “A lot of people will compare our team to last year, but this is a different team. It’s quicker and faster. As long as we try to hit the ball up the middle and hit line drives, we’re going to be a team that gets some doubles with our quickness.”