Modesto High pitcher Luke Nyhoff got two victories on Tuesday.
One, a 14-0 no-hit victory over Modesto Metro Conference foe Davis. The other, a win over baseball tradition.
Nyhoff, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound right-hander, used his fastball and curveball to keep the Spartans baffled. Two errors prevented it from being a perfect game.
"I usually throw a fastball, change-up and a cutter," said Nyhoff. "Today I just went with the fastball and curveball, and there wasn't really much need for the curve. They were having a hard time with the fastball, so I just used the curve to give them some different looks and different speeds."
Nyhoff needed just 58 pitches to strike out 11 in the five-inning, mercy-rule win, and even helped his cause with a two-run double in the fifth.
"Toward the middle of the game, we told Luke to show his curve but make sure it was out of the zone," said Modesto coach Daryl Galloway. "We didn't want to speed up their bats."
Perhaps even more impressive was his other victory on the day.
"I think what happened was in the fifth inning we scored 11 runs and I pretty much emptied my bench," said Galloway.
At that point, with the game's conclusion just a half inning away the mercy rule puts a halt to a game when one team leads by double-digits after the the fifth the Panthers (4-5 in the MMC) began making mass substitutions.
So, when a Modesto coach told Nyhoff to put something on his arm presumably to keep it warm for the final inning senior shortstop Hiram Hernandez took it to mean the pitcher was finished for the afternoon.
"I thought he was done," said Hernandez. "I said, 'Luke! You threw a no-hitter!' And the whole dugout went 'Ohhhhh, Hiram!'
"Of course, I knew the tradition. I felt bad. The whole next inning I was thinking that we had to get this thing done or it's all my fault."
He shouldn't have been worried.
Nyhoff, who will attend Vanguard University in Costa Mesa this fall, struck out the first two batters he faced in the fifth, then fed the final batter a steady diet of fastballs and got him to ground out to second.
"You try not to think about it until you're there," said Nyhoff of the no-hitter. "If you get it, you get it. If you don't, you don't. It's just a rare opportunity and it was really fun, to have the team and me be able to enjoy that."
As for Hernandez, he was twice hit by pitches on Tuesday and must've built up some cred with the baseball gods.
How else could the senior shortstop get away with spitting in the face of baseball tradition?