Whenever a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter, it is common baseball 101 for the players and coaches to never bring it up to the pitcher who is in the process of hurling said no-hitter.
Usually they let the pitcher sit by his lonesome, not wanting to break the almost hypnotic trance the pitcher is in when he is in the zone.
With staff ace Josh Yoder on the mound facing a talented Ridgewood team, Yoder’s Garaway Pirates were not about to mention the fact he was tossing a no-hitter.
However, upon completing the 106-pitch no-hitter in a 6-1 Garaway win, his teammates took it one step further.
“This is the honest truth,” head coach Justin Elmore said. “They had so many base runners throughout the game that I never gave it a thought. It didn’t really register. We got done with our postgame talk, and the girls were still playing softball, and Josh came up to me, and I told him to get his running in. He said, ‘Hey, quick question: Was that a no-hitter tonight?’ I looked at Nick [Schwartz], and he looked at me, and we both said, ‘Yeah, you might be right.’ We went back through the book, and he was right. He had thrown a no-hitter, and I think he was the only one out here who realized it.”
Yoder thought he had a gem going, but he wasn’t going to bring it up during the game, and wisely so according to baseball lore.
Before he even took the mound, his teammates gave him some breathing room.
Austin Fearon and Yoder started the game by doubling off of Ridgewood starter Cale Roberts. Peyton Miller then deposited a 0-2 pitch over the wall in left center for a 3-0 Pirates’ lead.
Yoder then took the mound and began his historic effort by looking anything but a guy throwing a no-hitter. He walked a pair in the bottom of the first but escaped any damage by recording one of his six strike-outs.
Brock Keim added to Garaway’s run total by slamming a solo shot over the wall in left for a 4-0 lead in the second inning. The Generals got their lone run without a hit in the second inning. Connor Kunze walked to lead it off, was sacrificed to second and went to third on a wild pitch. With two outs Yoder recorded a strike-out, but the ball skipped past the catcher and allowed Kunze to score.
Dylan Hershberger and Dawson Ley singled in the third, but the Pirates stranded them, and Yoder worked around the lone Garaway error to end the third.
Garaway went easily in the fourth, and Yoder allowed another runner to reach on a dropped third strike and a walk, but again he got out of trouble without allowing a hit.
After that Yoder zeroed in and really got it going. He sailed through the fifth and sixth, and the Pirates gave him a little bigger cushion by pushing across two more runs in the seventh. With one out Miller and Hershberger singled around a fielder’s choice to load the bases, and a walk and a fielder’s choice brought in a pair of runs.
Yoder took the mound knowing what was happening, despite everyone else apparently totally unaware. All he did in the final inning was throw 12 pitches, nine for strikes, striking out the side to complete the no-hit gem.
Only there was no celebration other than the kind a team has when it wins a game.
“What amazed me about Josh was that he just got stronger and stronger as the game went on,” Elmore said. “The last inning he was really bringing it, probably harder than he had the entire game. He struggled a bit early with his control and kept getting into and out of trouble. He was trying to blow it by guys, but once he settled in, he started using all of his pitches, and he really settled in. He looked like the Josh Yoder we have come to expect to see on the mound every night.”
Elmore said he can’t recall anyone throwing a no-hitter during his tenure, but he said if it has happened, it would have been when Nate Festi ruled the mound for the Pirates a decade ago.
Elmore said while none of his players recognized the feat Yoder was pulling off, it might have actually been a good thing.
“We have talked to the guys lately about being focused in, and I guess they were so focused that they didn’t even realize he was throwing a no-hitter,” Elmore said.
Yoder ended the night striking out six and walking five, and to add to the festivities, the no-hit win marked Elmore’s 200th career coaching victory at Garaway.
“That’s definitely a fun way to get it,” Elmore said.
Too bad he never realized the magnitude of what was taking place.