By Rob Kiser
SIDNEY — Jared Askins may have some tough decision later in the spring.
“When we have everybody healthy, we will have three to four top quality pitchers,” the Piqua baseball coach said. “That is going to make it difficult on some nights who pitches.”
There were no tough decisions Tuesday night in a 7:15 p.m. start against Sidney at Custenborder Park.
Askins just handed the ball to junior Blake Wright and he took care of the rest — hurling Piqua’s first no-hitter since Andy Draving in 2011 in a 2-0 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
The win was Piqua’s fourth straight to even the Indians record on the season and improve them to 3-0 in the GWOC North, while Sidney dropped to 2-6 overall and 0-3 in the GWOC North.
“Just an outstanding game by Blake (Wright),” Askins said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more. He obviously had all three pitches working and had a really good fastball.”
Wright seven, walked five and two Sidney batters reached on error.
But, every time he needed a big pitch, Wright got it — and a few web gems from his defense as well.
“I was aware of it (the no-hitter) in the sixth inning, but I didn’t want to say anything,” Wright said. “It is tough (pitching on a cold night). I throw better when it is warm, but it was OK. This is a huge win for our team — especially because it is Sidney.
“I have to give coach (Brad) Lavey a lot of credit. He was calling the pitches.”
Piqua played small-ball in a lot of ways to get its two runs off of Sidney southpaw Zane Walker.
In the second, leadoff batter Derrick Gullett went all the way to third on a throwing error, but Walker got a ground out and pop out and it looked like Sidney might get a big lift and escape the damage.
Piqua catcher Ethan Garland drilled a single to score Gullett and make it 1-0.
“That was huge,” Askins said. “Ethan (Garland) has a lot on his plate, being a sophomore catcher. He got a first-pitch fastball he could drive and drilled it.”
Sidney had a chance to tie the game in the fourth when Damien Duff reached on a two-out error and advanced to third on a wild pitch. But, Wright got a big strikeout to end the rally.
Piqua took a 2-0 lead in the home sixth when Cory Cottrell singled to start things.
After Noah Lyman’s sacrifice and Travis Smith’s fielder’s choice moved him to third, Gullett hit a slow roller between home and the mound.
It was a tough play for Walker and Gullett beat the throw.
“Sometimes a little hit like that looks like a line shot in the box score,” Askins said. “Those are the kind of things you have to do in the GWOC North.”
In the Sidney sixth, Wright got back-to-back web gems from his defense.
First, shortstop Smith barehanded Jacob Cooper’s slow roller and just beat him with the throw — and then second baseman Rupert Delacruz made a similar play on Cole Hoffman.
“Two great plays back to back,” Askins said. “Defense is something we had really struggled with early in the season.”
With two outs in the seventh, Wright induced a ground ball that should have ended the game.
The Piqua error put runners on first and second with two out, before Wright got the next batter to hit a looper to Smith at shortstop to end the game finish off the no-hitter.
Walker pitched a four-hitter for Sidney, striking out five.
Gullett also had a double for the Indians.
Piqua looks to continue the momentum in a second game with Sidney at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Hardman Field.
“We knew we were a better team than we were showing (at the start of the season),” Wright said. “When we started making errors, I think we just started thinking about it too much..”
Piqua continued that momentum on Wednesday, with a fifth straight win and a sweep of Sidney with a 7-1 victory to improve to 4-0 in the GWOC North.
Derrick Gullett got the win on the mound, with Logan Harris pitching the sixth and Derek Hite picking up the save in the seventh. They combined on a five-hitter, with Gullett striking out six and walking one in his five innings of work.
Hite had two RBIs, while Austin Davis made an impressive debut, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Travis Smith blasted a homer for the Indians, who broke a 1-1 deadlock with a five-run fifth inning.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.