MANSFIELD, Pa. – Brandon Garrett and Luke Hils fired back-to-back complete game no-hitters in a pair of incredible performances to sweep Kutztown 1-0 in both ends of a PSAC East doubleheader Monday afternoon in a historic day at Shaute Field.
It marks the first time in Mansfield's 149-year baseball history that two pitchers have thrown no-hitters in each game of a doubleheader. The Mountaineer's last no-hitter came when Chris Zallie threw a five-inning no-no in a 12-0 win against Jamestown (N. Dak.) in Florida on March, 3, 1997. The last no-hitter at Shaute Field was Tom DeSanto's against SUNY Oneonta in an 11-0 win on April 17, 1977. Mansfield played its first baseball game in 1867.
"I never would have thought this could happen" said Hils following the game. "It was a tough game to follow because no one would ever expect two in one day, it's still overwhelming."
Mansfield (15-17, 5-11 PSAC East) won the opener in thrilling fashion as Zach Merkle drove in the winning run on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh to score Peter Pena. In game two, Tanner Klein's solo home run in the second inning stood for the victory.
The opener was an old-fashion pitcher's duel as Mansfield's Garrett and Kutztown's Matt Swarmer did not concede a hit until Ryan Paige got aboard with a lead-off single in the bottom of the fifth inning. Both hurlers struck out the side in the first inning.
Garrett had the Kutztown (17-19, 7-9 PSAC East) bats confused as the junior struck out six of the first seven batters faced on his way to fanning 10 for the day. Mansfield's defense was stellar behind Garrett, converting nine ground outs and a pair of fly outs. Garret helped his own cause in the top of the fifth, rushing off the mound to field a dribbler near the foul line on the third base side and firing over to first on a bang-bang play.
Garrett retired the side in the top of the seventh inning, striking out the final batter, but had to wait in the dugout for the Mountaineers to come up with the winning run in the bottom of the frame.
Pena led-off the seventh with a single through the left side and advanced to second on Ryan Paige's one-out single down the left field line. Both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Merkle came to the plate facing two outs and went down 0-2 on the first two pitches before fouling off the next two offerings. After taking a ball, Merkle drove in the game-winning run with a hard hit ball into center that fell just beyond the reach of the fielder.
The Mountaineers mobbed Merkle for his walk-off performance and Garrett for his gem on the mound that came just two days after the passing of his great grandfather.
"I told coach rain, shine, or snow; if we're playing, I'm pitching" said Garrett following the game. "I know he was here for me today. A couple of those lucky bounces went my way and I know he's watching up there. He would have loved to be here."
Garrett allowed just two walks in the complete game victory, throwing 82 pitches to 24 batters. It marked the junior's second win of the season. The no-hitter was caught by Pena.
Swarmer was outstanding on the mound for Kutztown, allowing just four hits, two walks and an earned run while striking out 11 batters.
Paige went 2-2 in the game and drew a walk.
In the nightcap, Hils retired the side in order in the top of the first. The sophomore issued a walk to open the second, but worked the next three outs to end any threat.
Klein provided what would prove to be the winning run in the bottom of the second inning, blasting a lead-off, solo home run over the center field fence. It was his third round-tripper of the season.
Hils settled in nicely over the next three innings, sitting Golden Bear batters down 1-2-3, including fanning a pair of batters in both the third and fourth innings. Mansfield's defense came up big once again in the sixth, turning a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning.
Hils went back on the mound in the top of the seventh with a 1-0 lead and struck out the lead-off hitter looking before walking the next. Hils retired the following batter on a swinging strikeout then forced a pop up in foul territory that Jerry Chavarria camped under and caught to record the final out and give Hils the second Mansfield no-hitter of the day.
Hils earned his second win of the season, allowing just three walks and striking out six in the complete game effort. The righty totaled 79 pitches over 23 batters faced. The game two no-no was caught by Chavarria.
"I was getting a lot of ground balls and my infield was just playing out of their minds today" explained Hils.
Pat Flynn took the loss after allowing five hits, two walks and an earned run over 6.0 innings worked. Flynn struck out six batters.
Taylor Hillson went 2-3 at the plate and stole a base.
Mansfield splits the four-game divisional series with Kutztown after dropping both games on Sunday.