Seitzinger throws no-hitter in Bluejackets’ Senior Night win over Eastern

By Noah Dalton

MITCHELL – Wednesday night was Senior Night for Mitchell, as the team took a moment before their matchup against Eastern (Pekin) to honor their seniors, including the nine graduating players on their roster; Simon Gaines, Gibson Glassco, AJ Sarver, Jayden King, Ben Seitzinger, Kody Earl, Michael Webster, Ashton Luman and Ethan Turner.

Bluejackets’ head coach Jerry Chaney noted the value of these players to the program, not only for their contributions on the field, where many have occupied key roles on the team for the majority of their time with the program but for their leadership, which he feels has been a key component to their success over the last four seasons, each of which they’ve wound up with a winning record.

Mitchell’s seniors took the field before the game to have a catch with a loved one, an homage to the film Field of Dreams

“They’re really the core and the nine that we started tonight would be a pretty good baseball team on any club, we just happen to have some underclassmen that are pretty good too. But, the leadership from the seniors, it’s been amazing. I talked to another veteran coach, Richard Hurt at Bloomington North, and he said, ‘Often you win with juniors and you lose with seniors.’ So, I made a point back in January to say ‘Hey seniors, you are my leaders and we’re going to go as far as you want to go,” he said.

“For them to win 17 games for the third straight season says a lot about who they are. They haven’t stopped playing. They haven’t stopped working. They’re all good students. They’re all good men. I’m extremely proud of the 11 seniors that we have, nine of which play and two manage. Beyond baseball, they’re just great gentlemen. My main goal here is to teach a little baseball, but teach boys to be men we can all be proud of and I can say without a doubt, I’m proud of all these kids. They excel in the classroom, they excel in the community, they go to church, they help at the elementary schools. I mean, they’re just great kids, so great. And, that’s a tribute to their parents who raised good men.”

The team’s nine seniors occupied the entire lineup against the Musketeers, ultimately earning a 17-0 victory.

With two outs recorded in the fifth inning, on the verge of securing the mercy-rule win thanks to their sizeable lead, Chaney pulled the majority of the seniors from the game, giving them each a chance to receive an ovation from the crowd.

Seitzinger, who was their starting pitcher for the evening, and Webster, who was the team’s catcher, remained on the field, as Seitzinger had not yet allowed a hit to that point, and stood just one out away from completing a no-hitter.

Mitchell’s Ben Seitzinger winds up for a pitch during his no-hitter against Eastern

After throwing a ball in the first pitch, he threw three straight strikes, picking up his 11th and final strikeout of the night to retire the side and Eastern, cementing what was nearly a perfect game, if not for a walk in the fourth inning.

“I wanted to pull all the seniors, but obviously I couldn’t. I can’t take Ben out with a no-hitter out there,” said Chaney. “My seniors, they wanted to put it on them and they did.”

As Mitchell held the Musketeers without a hit, they had no shortage of success themselves at the plate.

They tallied eight hits, along with drawing nine walks, for a steady flow of baserunners, which they were able to send home consistently with 15 RBIs as a team.

Mitchell senior AJ Sarver swings during an at-bat against Eastern

Seitzinger batted in a team-high four runs in two hits. Gaines and Turner each added three RBIs and two hits of their own.

The Bluejackets battled at the plate all night, forcing Eastern’s pitchers to throw 142 pitches in 37 at-bats through five innings.

Coming off four wins in their last five games, with their most recent loss coming against a strong opponent in 1A No.2 ranked Barr-Reeve, Chaney likes where the team is at as they near the end of their regular season.

“Our offense has come and gone this year, and some games it’s on and some games it’s not, but one thing I’ve been really pleased with all year is that we take a lot of pitches and work counts and that could be beneficial in the tournament. We’ve just got to keep getting better. I think we’re in good shape. We’re playing probably our best baseball right now,” Chaney said. “We’re playing good baseball, playing good defense, playing good offense, our pitching has been exceptional. Ben is now 8-0 with an under-one ERA. And then we’ve got Simon, who’s right at the same spot. So, we’ve got a good 1A and 1B, and our defense is solid out there.”

Mitchell will finish their regular season on Monday, coming back for another home game, this time against Beech Grove (3-21).