Close to nothing
El Dorado Broncos pitcher Josh Stone likes to keep to himself in the dugout under any circumstances. Thursday’s 4-0 win over Greeley (Colo.) wasn’t normal for any pitcher.
Stone didn’t give up a hit until one out remained in the eighth inning, thoroughly dominating the Grays by mixing his fastball and slider and producing a series of groundballs and weak flyballs. Greeley’s Colton Gibson ended the bid for a no-hitter when he sliced a double into left field.
True to baseball tradition, nobody in the dugout talked about the no-hitter in progress.
“I stay to myself and I stand in the same spot (in the dugout) every time — I’m superstitous,” Stone said. “They were all into the game, and I was in my own zone.”
Stone, who will transfer to Tabor College from Abilene Christian, didn’t endure many nervous moments. J.L. Buchannon smacked a ball a few feet foul in left in the fifth. His second baseman snared a sinking line drive off the bat of Jerry Hildreth in the sixth. Beyond those, he gave his defense plenty of routine plays.
“You look up there in the seventh inning and there’s still no hits on the board it’s tough to see that,” Hildreth said. “His slider, he got a lot of groundball outs. When he got ahead, he went to it and it never failed him.”
After Gibson’s double, Broncos coach Pat Hon visited the mound to give Stone a chance to compose himself. He could hear Stone saying “No shot, no shot I’m coming out” as he approached.
“He was at 110 pitches and I was concerned about that,” Hon said. “I felt like he would be honest with me and I wanted to give him that opportunity (to finish).”
Stone did just that to protect the four-run lead. He struck out Zach Wilson to end the eighth. Then he retired the Grays in order in the ninth, striking out the final two batters. He finished with 11 strikeouts and walked three. Stone’s big night was no big surprise. He set the Broncos record with 37 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run, breaking the mark by former Wichita State pitcher Rob Musgrave (37) in 2004.
“The thing that makes him a little bit above most guys is he will throw his slider 2-1, 2-0, 3-0,” Hon said. “So he doesn’t have to throw fastballs in fastball counts.”
There have been 34 no-hitters in NBC history, 13 of them through nine innings. Most recently, two were thrown in 2001.
Over and in
The Broncos are in the semifinals, despite offensive struggles throughout the summer. On Thursday, their bats perked up and they took advantage of gifts from Greeley.
El Dorado took a 1-0 lead in the third after Andrew Perez doubled when the Greeley right fielder lost the ball in the sun. In the fifth, Grays pitcher David LeBlanc walked in two runs.
“We got some things when we needed it,” Hon said. “That’s where we have struggled all year. We would get guys second and third one out, no outs, and we weren’t able to score.”
No. 17 on display
The NBC retired Satchel Paige’s No. 17 before Thursday’s feature game, unveiling a banner that will hang on the wall in right-center field.
Members of Paige’s family attended the ceremony and a short film detailing Paige’s life played on the scoreboard screen. Paige, pitching for Bismarck (N.D.), starred in the first NBC in 1935 and helped popularize the tournament.
Past the bats
Pitching continued to rule the 78th NBC entering Thursday’s games.
The tournament ERA of 2.78 through 57 games would rank as the lowest of the modern wood bat era (since 2000). Hitters compiled a batting average of .234, by far the lowest since 2000.
Of the six teams remaining at the start of Thursday’s session, four had ERAs under 2.00. Four of the teams ranked in the top seven for batting average.
El Dorado Broncos 4, Greeley (Colo.) Grays 0, Greeley eliminated
Hays Larks 8, Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters 0
Seattle Studs 6, St. Joseph Mustangs 1
Seattle Studs vs. Hays Larks, 6 p.m.
El Dorado Broncos vs. Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters, 8:30
Friday’s winners, 7 p.m.
El Dorado 4, Greeley 0
|El Dorado||002||020||000||—||4 12 0|
|Greeley||000||000||000||—||0 1 1|
W — Stone. L — Mundfrom.
Hays 8, Santa Barbara 0
|Santa Barbara||000||000||0||—||0 3 0|
|Hays||500||300||x||—||8 6 0|
W — Lewick. L — Wilson.
Seattle 6, Dodge City 2
|Dodge City||000||002||000||—||2 11 0|
|Seattle||004||100||01x||—||6 7 0|
W — Porter. L — Smith.