No-hitter broken up in seventh inning
By Mark Carpenter – People’s Defender
It was a Thursday afternoon road trip on April 21 for Coach Scott Lovett and his Peebles Indians baseball squad as they traveled across county lines to face the Ripley Blue Jays in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play. The best decision Coach Lovett made during that trip was to send right hander Stephen Penn to the mound against the Jays, as Penn responded with a magnificent performance, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning, before giving up a base hit and settling for a one-hit shutout as the Indians improved to 4-7 with a 7-0 victory.
For Penn, it was his second shutout performance of the spring as he threw a four-hitter in a March 26 win over Portsmouth Clay. On Thursday, he dominated Ripley hitters, striking out 12. He did walk six batters, but none of them came around to score. Going into the seventh, Penn had a no-hitter intact but with one out, Ripley’s Blake Ridpath slapped a clean single between short and third for what turned out to be the only Blue Jay hit of the game.
“I knew that I had a no-hitter going,” said Penn after the win. “I was nervous when I went out for the last inning, just thinking that I needed to throw harder and throw strikes. I got close to a few no-hitters back in Knothole but this was my first high school game to get that close.”
The Peebles offense didn’t have a bad day either as they pounded out 11 hits, two each by Brennan Sims, Caleb West, Bostin Robinson, and Levi Newkirk.
The Indians got Penn all the runs he would need in the top of the first inning as Sims led off with a base hit to right off of Ripley starter Kevin Kirk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and came home on a two-base hit by catcher Caleb West.
With Penn rolling through the Ripley lineup, the score remained at 1-0 until the Indians exploded for four runs in the top half of the fourth. Newkirk began the frame with a line drive triple to right, followed by a walk to Conner Browning. After Jacob Vaughn went down looking, Browning swiped second and Newkirk scored when Sims grounded out to second.
West drew a base on balls and a base hit by Bostin Robinson scored both Browning and West to make it 4-0. Robinson stole second and rode home on a two-base hit to deep center by Blake Stivers to give the visiting Indians a five-run advantage.
Ridpath came on in relief of Kirk for Ripley and kept the Peebles hitters off-balance until the top of the seventh when the Indians touched him up for a pair of runs. With one out, Joe McElwee doubled down the right field line and came home on a run-scoring hit by Newkirk . Newkirk advanced to second on a Jack Behr ground out and came across the plate on a base hit by Ridge Cluxton that made it 7-0.
With a comfortable lead, Penn went back to the mound for the bottom of the seventh three outs shy of a no-hit effort. He fanned Chandler Slowey the first hitter on three pitches and then perhaps was jinxed when shortstop Robinson made the comment, “just two more outs for the no-no.” On the first pitch he saw, Ridpath delivered a solid ground ball between short and third to extinguish the no-hit bid.
With the no-hitter out of play, Penn settled down and struck out the next hitter on three pitches and then the game came to an end when backstop West gunned down Ridpath trying to steal second and the Indians were leaving Brown County with their fourth win of the season.
”Stephen is just a sophomore and he’s thrown a lot of good games for us this year,” said Coach Lovett. “He kept the ball down, he had his velocity today,and he kept them off balance a little bit with his breaking ball. It was a gutsy effort for a team that had been struggling to score runs.We did what we had to do at the plate but the game ball goes to Stephen Penn.”
The Indians were scheduled to be back in action on Monday, April 25, with a scheduling quirk that saw them battling the Blue Jays again, only this time on the Indians’ home field (a win for Peebles 8-2 to improve to 5-7 ). On Tuesday, April 25, the Indians were slated to host the North Adams Green Devils in an all-county SHAC match up.
PHS 100 400 2 —7
RHS 000 000 0 —0
PHS Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Sims 5-1-2-1, West 4-1-2-1, Robinson 3-1-2-2, Stivers 4-0-1-1, Penn 3-0-0-0, McElwee 4-1-1-0, Newkirk 4-2-2-1, Browning 1-1-0-0, Behr 1-0-0-0, Vaughn 1-0-0-0, Cluxton 2-0-1-1, Team 32-7-11-7.
Extra-Base Hits: McElwee 2B, Stivers 2B, West 2B
PHS Pitching: Penn (W) 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 6 BB, 12 K, 73 pitches