Jake Whaley didn't have time to worry about whether or not his no-hitter was still intact. He was too busy protecting a 1-0 lead with one out and a runner on second base.
So the Marshalltown Community College freshman right-hander struck out the next two batters, retired the side in the seventh and celebrated his first collegiate no-no to complete the Tigers' Saturday ICCAC Division I sweep of Muscatine.
MCC left-hander Jeff Degano tossed a three-hitter in the team's 11-1, five-inning romp in game one, and Whaley's gem extended his scoreless innings streak to 12 as the Tigers triumphed 1-0.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Marshalltown Community College freshman Jake Whaley (37) delivers a pitch against Muscatine’s Alex Bradley during the first inning of game two in Saturday’s ICCAC Division I doubleheader at Shawn Williams Field. Whaley struck out nine in his first collegiate no-hitter as the Tigers won 1-0 to complete a sweep.
"It's awesome, I'm thankful the team made a bunch of great plays out there behind me," said Whaley, a 2011 Marshalltown High School graduate.
Whaley (3-4) struck out nine and hit one batter, facing only two more than the minimum in what was two instances away from being a perfect game. He plunked Lucas Kemp with a 1-2 slider to end his bid for perfection with one out in the fifth, and No. 9 hitter Tyson Zarowny nearly bunted for a hit with one gone in the sixth.
Zarowny and the throw from MCC catcher Steven Murtha arrived almost simultaneously to first base, but Murtha's throw pulled Tyler Evans into the basepath and skipped into right field.
With Zarowny on second, Whaley instead focused on the next two batters, striking out Brady Grell and Alex Bradley to end Muscatine's threat to tie.
"He was on a roll," said MCC head coach Rich Grife. "He gave up a couple runs in the first (inning) at Iowa Western and he's been putting up zeroes since."
The Tigers (24-29, 15-15) tallied the game's only run in the bottom of the third after Anderson Villarroel reached with a one-out walk and scored all the way from first on Ben Lott's double to left.
Muscatine (7-45, 3-27) left-hander Michael Allen dodged any further damage in the fifth when Lott's long fly down the left-field line appeared to clang off the foul poul for a two-run homer. It was instead ruled a foul ball, prompting Grife to emerge from the dugout for an explanation.
"(The home plate umpire) said he tracked it and had it foul, he wasn't sure that it left the park," Grife said. "(The umpire) is very good, nobody wanted (that play) to not make a difference in the game more than him, but it worked out for a reason.
"And finally we didn't get distracted by something like that."
MCC's offense, which had 12 hits in the opener, only reached Allen for five hits in the second game as the lefty struck out six and walked four. Lott had the RBI double, Kyle Simpson had two singles while Andrew Utterback and Evans added hits. Villarroel walked twice and stole a base.
The only error the Tigers made on the day was the one that allowed Zarowny to reach base on the bunt.
"I thought it was over," Whaley said of his no-hit bid. "And that (Lott homer) would have taken a lot of pressure off, but I guess it all worked out."
Degano (3-3) continued his return from injury with a steady mix of curveballs, and the only Muscatine runner to score reached base after striking out on a wild pitch. In fact, Allen was the only Cardinal to advance as far as third base all day.
The Tiger defense played error-free behind Degano, who walked two, and gave him plenty of run support. Lott led off the bottom of the first with a triple, and MCC tallied three runs on six hits against Muscatine lefty Brady McDonald.
Marshalltown scored four times in the second and three more in the third, finally ending the game by the mercy rule when Simpson tugged an inside fastball from Steven Donnelly out of the park in the fifth.
"Obviously I had great run support with the team putting up three runs in the first inning," said Degano. "It was easy from then on, it was great to have that confidence going back out there on the mound."
Lott went 3-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored from the leadoff spot, also reaching on a hit-by-pitch. William Salas went 2-for-3, scored twice and drove in four, while Villarroel was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Jordan McCoy, Bryce Manning, Simpson, Utterback and Justen Folger each had a hit as well.
The two teams are scheduled to play another doubleheader today at Shawn Williams Field, with the start time moving up to noon in hopes of avoiding rain in the forecast.