OAKLAND — In the North Coast Section Division V baseball semifinals, Stuart Hall knew it would have its hands full with Head-Royce considering the Jayhawks have won two straight section championships.
But on Tuesday, Stuart Hall — the Bay Counties League West champs and a team with one senior on its roster — found out firsthand just how good Head-Royce is in an 11-0 loss.
Jayhawks senior pitcher Matt Forster tossed a no-hitter — striking out eight while only allowing four base-runners — and Head-Royce (19-4) scored 10 runs in the bottom of the third inning en route to the victory that was called after five innings.
“[Forster] had command of all of his pitches and it was really tough for us,” said Stuart Hall coach Joey Railey, whose team finished 20-7. “He pitched phenomenal. This team overall is very good, and they're two-time section champs for a reason.”
With freshman pitcher Owen Hackel on the mound, Railey was looking for the Knights to jump out to an early lead. They had a shot when junior Stephen Everest led off the game with a walk, and, with one-out, stole third base.
But Forster struck out the next two batters to get Head-Royce out of a jam. From that point, it was all Jayhawks.
With a 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the third inning, Head-Royce figured out Hackel and the rest of the Stuart Hall pitching staff.
The Jayhawks batted around in the inning, collecting seven hits — including freshman Reuben Drogin's two-run double to left center which brought home Reid Gibbs and Nico Hoerner. Sami Tuqan also scored on the play after Drogin was caught in a rundown.
“When you face pitchers that throw a lot of off-speed pitches, they get you off on your front foot,” Head-Royce coach Mike Talps said. “We preach to go the other way if possible, and once we went through the lineup once, we did that and we got some things going in that third inning.”
Later in the inning, Jayhawks catcher C.J. Novogradac added a two-run single, capping off the huge inning for Head-Royce, and a nightmarish one for Stuart Hall.
“Our game plan coming here was to jump on them early, especially in this environment,” Railey said. “We didn't execute, and the difference is they got big hits when they needed it, and the things kind of spun out of control.”