Lee’s Summit North senior Nate Webb looks more like a lumberjack than the ace of the Broncos staff, but he had no problem chopping down everyone in the Blue Springs South lineup Friday afternoon at South as he threw six no-hit innings in his first start of the season.
The Jaguars managed two hits and three runs off North reliever Spencer Peterson in the bottom of the seventh, but it was far too little, too late as the Broncos claimed a 12-3 victory.
North cranked out 13 hits and put the game away early with a six-run second inning that gave Webb added incentive to keep pitching well.
“The guys do a great job supporting me,” said Webb, who made two previous relief appearances but took the mound for the first time this season as a starter following an early-season knee injury. “I knew I had a no-hitter, but I had no problem leaving the game after six innings. I’d thrown a lot of pitches, and the big games don’t start until May. I want to be healthy and ready to go then, so I wasn’t upset about leaving after the sixth.”
North coach Mike Westacott said he had no trouble convincing the big right hander with the crimson beard that he should watch the final inning from the bench.
“He’d thrown right at 100 pitches and it was his first start,” Westacott said after the Broncos improved to 8-7 overall and 4-1 in Suburban Big Six play. “He’s a team player first, and he knows the biggest games come in May. He’s so much fun to watch, and he had it all working today. We’re proud of him, and can’t wait to see what he does the rest of the season.”
Webb had to share the spotlight with leadoff hitter Hayden Bradford, who had four hits, reached base five times (he was hit by a pitch), and scored three runs.
“It was great to score some runs for Nate in his first start,” said Bradford, who opened the game with a single but was stranded on third to end the first inning. “We left the bases loaded in the first, and I think that just got us more fired up to go out and do something in the second.”
The Broncos had seven hits, including four doubles, in the second to take a 6-0 lead. All but two Broncos got a hit and scored in the big inning, with Mason Stites getting the offense started with a two-run double.
“That was a big inning,” said Webb, who walked three batters and had five strikeouts. “All my pitches were working today, but when you have a lead like that, you feel a little more comfortable pitching to contact. The guys did a great job behind me defensively.”
Bradford made a no-hit saving catch as he grabbed a line drive off the bat of South’s Tyson Cushman in left field in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“I knew Nate had a no-hitter,” Bradford said. “But I wasn’t thinking about saving the no-hitter, I just wanted to make the catch and keep them off the base paths.”
The Jaguars finally scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh when Jake Lamb drove home two runners who had walked and Tyler Clark followed with an RBI single, scoring Lamb.
“It was good to not get shut out,” Lamb said, “but it’s no fun to lose like we did today. That kid was throwing hard. He’s a good pitcher.”
The loss leaves the struggling Jaguars with an 8-8 overall record and 2-3 conference mark.
“We’re going to learn a lot about this team and the guys are going to learn a lot about each other because we’re struggling right now,” South coach Ben Baier said. “A loss is a loss – it doesn’t matter to me personally that we scored those three runs in the seventh. We have to start playing better ball. I have to start coaching better, we have to start hitting better and pitching better – and I think we will. I like these kids and I like this team. There is a lot of season left and I think we can turn things around.”