SACRAMENTO, Ca. - Sacramento State senior right-handed pitcher Justin Dillon threw the first no-hitter in the Division I history of the program in a 2-0 win over Northern Kentucky on Thursday night at John Smith Field.
Dillon issued just one walk and had a career-high 13 strikeouts, facing just two batters over the minimum with a walk in the fifth inning and a Hornet fielding error in the ninth. He threw the first no-hitter by a WAC pitcher since Fresno State's Greg Gonzalez no-hit Hawaii on April 10, 2010.
"I didn't really notice until the seventh inning, but when I toed the rubber it just felt like me and the batter and the catcher," Dillon said. "Things kind of disappeared; there was no stress and I trusted the guys behind me. The last batter I heard someone in the stands yell 'one more' and I chuckled but I trusted the guys behind me and all I had to do was make quality pitches."
Dillon's 13th strikeout ended the game as, on his 107th pitch of the night, he pumped a fastball by the bat of Northern Kentucky shortstop Jake Richmond. The Norse did have a batter reach with two away in the ninth inning on a Hornet fielding error but Dillon set down Richmond on four pitches to end it.
"I was able to establish the fastball early on and once the fastball got established it really got the hitters off balance with the off-speed," Dillon said. "I got my slider late in the game and that really helped me out against the righties and everything started clicking towards the end."
Dillon had allowed just one hit (a home run) over seven innings in his first start of the season last Saturday against Washington State. Through two outings this year he has allowed just one hit and one run with one walk and 17 strikeouts in 16.0 innings pitched.
On Thursday night he was dominant right from the start, striking out the first five batters he faced and not allowing a base runner before NKU second baseman Kyle Colletta drew a two-out walk in the fifth inning. Dillon struck out at least one batter in six of nine innings, including two strikeouts in the ninth.
The Norse didn't get close to many hits throughout the night. The closest NKU got to a hit was leading off the eighth winning, when pinch hitter Ty Amann swung at the first pitch and hit a deep drive to right field that was tracked down by Hornet outfielder James Outman. In all Dillon got 10 ground ball outs, three fly outs, and a soft line out to shortstop to go with his 13 strikeouts.
Dillon, who missed most of the 2016 season due to injury, had flirted with a no-hitter before. As a redshirt freshman in 2014 he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning at CSU Bakersfield and allowed just one hit in a 7-3 Hornet win.
Sacramento State (3-1) created enough offense for Dillon just in the first inning. Junior Ian Dawkins led off the game for the Hornets with a double and, after a groundout moved him to third, scored on a sacrifice fly from junior Kody Reynolds.
The Hornets got another run in the seventh, drawing four walks (all on full counts) and scoring a run as Outman drew the fourth walk of the inning to force in freshman Dawsen Bacho.
Northern Kentucky (1-3) was able to stay close as starter Trey Ganns allowed just one run on three hits over 5. 1 innings. The Hornets did draw 10 walks in the game but NKU managed to strand 11 Hornet runners on base allowing just two hits.