Blue Springs Post 499 Fike pitcher Noah Hensley didn’t need to be overpowering to achieve a career milestone Wednesday.
In the second game of pool play in the 30th annual American Legion Wood Bat Invitational, Hensley had only one strikeout but managed to put together his first career no-hitter in a 9-0, five-inning mercy-rule victory against the Windsor Post 82 Titans at Hidden Valley Park’s Jim Moran Field.
That achievement was the icing on the cake for a productive day for Fike as it earned a 8-0 mercy-rule victory against Wentzville Post 323 South earlier in the day, to move to 2-0 in Pool A of the tournament.
“The pitchers threw the ball really well today and we hit the ball good and ran the bases well,” Fike manager Doug Lohman said, “and our defense was solid.”
The only thing that kept Hensley from having a perfect game was fastball that was called low for ball four on a 3-2 count in the fourth inning against Windsor batter Matt Poling. Fike also had an infield error in the fifth.
“I maybe missed a couple of pitches,” Hensley said of just missing out on a perfect game. “But it’s all right. It’s not a big deal.”
Added Lohman: “Noah had a great game. He kept them off balance and pitched to contact and our defense made the plays.”
The performance from Hensley capped off a couple of great pitching performances as Tyler Slinkerd tossed a shutout and gave up just five hits and struck out two against Wentzville Post 323 South.
It helped Hensley’s cause that his offense spotted him seven runs in the bottom of the first inning. Quinton Weld’s two-run single and Crichton Hill’s run-scoring base hit highlighted a big inning that was aided by a Windsor error and a passed ball.
“It helped with confidence, especially kind of looking out there and seeing my guys put up seven runs,” Hensley said. “It always helps as a pitcher.”
Fike totaled nine hits. Kyle Gaines led way with a double, a single, a run and an RBI. Gaines noted that everyone on the team has been putting the ball in play with consistently lately. And that has trickled down through the entire team, including Thadd Allen, who had his first at-bat in two years. Normally just a pitcher, Allen hit into a fielder’s choice on an 0-2 count in the fourth.
“That’s all we can do is to try to make them make plays and score some runs,” Gaines said. “I feel like one through nine can put the ball in play.”
Added Lohman: “We wanted to get (Thadd) an at-bat and he wanted it. We felt good about not giving up two runs the next inning (to not lose the mercy-rule victory). He’s been working to try and prove himself as a hitter, so we gave him the at-bat.”
Fike added two more runs in the third when Tommy Mortallaro blooped a single to the outfield and a throwing error allowed Koby Powell to score from second. Mortallaro later scored on Gaines’ RBI single to make it 9-0.
That’s all the support Hensley and his defense needed. The outfielders played shallow, which allowed them to catch bloop hits and line drives that might have normally dropped for base hits.
“We did play a little shallow, but playing with wood bats makes a little bit of a difference,” Lohman said.
Against Wentzville, Post 499 scored three runs in the second, two in the third, one in the fifth and two in the sixth. Ross Greco and Luke Moehle led the offense with a 3-for-3 days at the plate. Hill was 2-for-3 with a triple, a run and an RBI and Gaines had a double and two RBIs.