Hughes, Gates combine for no-hitter as Stars shut down Scottsburg

BNL’s Ryker Hughes fires a pitch toward the plate during Thursday’s clash with Scottsburg. Hughes and Cal Gates combined for a no-hitter as the Stars stopped the Warriors 3-0.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – Baseball superstition – the sport is rampant with unproven but universally upheld beliefs – dictates the phrase “no-hitter” cannot be mentioned when a pitcher is hurling such a gem. Don’t dare do that. The jinx will surely cause bad luck, and the immediate end of the bid.

Scottsburg’s bad luck was facing the overpowering fastballs of Bedford North Lawrence hurlers Ryker Hughes and Cal Gates. A black cat could have scrambled on the diamond, even purred up against one of the fireballers, and the Warriors weren’t getting a hit. Even if somebody shouted it from the dugout roof.

Hughes and Gates combined for an electric no-hitter as the Stars silenced Scottsburg 3-0 on Thursday evening. That duo accounted for 14 strikeouts and recorded the first BNL no-no since Kyler Sherrill shut down Brown County during a 17-0, five-inning triumph in 2016.

This one went the distance, and every out was vital, because the Stars (3-2 with back-to-back wins) managed only seven hits. Scottsburg ace David Edwards, a hard-throwing lefthander, was almost equal to BNL’s shutdown mound work, but the Stars scratched out two-out runs in three frames.

Hughes worked the first four innings and set a nasty tone by fanning the first six Scottsburg batters. He totaled eight strikeouts, walked two, and left with a 1-0 lead after throwing 73 pitches. Gates finished off the last three frames, struck out six. Only two Scottsburg runners reached second base.

“I went into the game not feeling the best, but I fought through it,” Hughes said. “Fastballs, that’s about it.”

BNL’s Cal Gates drove in the first run with a key two-out hit.

“He threw a great game,” Gates said of his predecessor. “When I went it, I was just looking to get outs, not focused too much on getting strikeouts or blowing it past guys.

“I had some idea about the no-hitter. I wasn’t focused on that, but I kind of thought we hadn’t given up a hit yet. I just threw strikes, looking for ground outs and fly outs.”

BNL had to dig for its runs. In the second, Walker Ward lined a single to center and advanced to second when Maddox Ray ground out. After Nate Pemberton walked, Gates delivered a clutch two-out single for the 1-0 lead.

In the fifth, the Stars added a key insurance run. Kline Woodward ripped a shot off the third baseman’s glove for an infield single, and Kaedyn Bennett was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Jonny Stone smacked a RBI single to left.

And in the sixth, Gates lined a double to right, took third as Bennett flew out, and scored on a wild pitch (again, with two outs).

“We got the hits when we really needed them,” Hughes said. “We work on two-strike hitting all the time. It played out in the game.”

“We had big two-out hits,” BNL coach Jeff Callahan said. “We talk about doing that. And that pitcher was a good one. I’m glad he pitched. We need to see that. I hope everyone throws their best pitchers at us, that’s what we need to get ready.”

Hughes and Gates also came up big in big moments. Four of the strikeouts were on 3-2 pitches.

“When you strike guys out, it helps your defense,” Callahan said. “They battled out there. Several of those were pitches they had to make.”

The Stars will host Evansville Reitz on Friday night.

BNL’s Walker Ward is greeted by assistant coach Reggie Joslin after scoring the first run.