CLAYTON — The Cleveland baseball team knew it would have to muster some offense to keep pace with hot hitting Triton as the two teams converged Thursday night in a Two Rivers 3A Conference battle.
But the Hawks’ starting pitcher Aaron Hedgepeth was having none of it.
Hedgepeth tossed a complete game no-hitter while Triton finally got to Cleveland pitching late to secure an 8-0 road win.
“Their kid pitched a great game today,” Cleveland coach Jamie Lee said of Hedgepeth. “His curve ball was really good and his fastball really wasn’t overpowering, but he sneaked it in.
“The difference in the game was we could never get runners on base to start innings off. I think if we could have done that, we might have been able to push a run or two across and it might have been a different situation.”
Hedgepeth walked three batters — including back-to-back free passes in the first inning — and the Rams’ Trevor Poole managed to reach first base on a Triton error, but that was the extent of the Rams’ offense on a night when it received another strong pitching performance of its own.
Senior starter Chase Jackson did a good job giving Cleveland (4-5, 1-1 Two Rivers) a fighter’s chance as he limited the Hawks to just one run—a sacrifice fly in the first—through five innings.
“Chase did a good job and threw a lot of strikes and got a lot of fly balls,” Lee said. “He kept us in the game. He’s pitched three times and he’s pitched real well all three times.”
The Hawks finally got to Jackson in the top of the sixth inning, however. Todd Penney laid down a perfect bunt down the first base line as Brett McLamb ran home from third on the squeeze play for a 2-0 lead.
Back-to-back RBI singles to right field from Triton’s No. 8 and No. 9 hitters (Cole Matthews and Houston Hamilton) then promptly doubled the score. After the Hawks tacked on an unearned tun, Hamilton capped off the five-run inning by stealing home.
“The bottom of their lineup, we’ve got to give them credit, got some timely hits,” said Lee. “They squeezed that run in and made it 2-0 but it was still a ball game. But their eight-nine batters got backside hits on really good pitches and that broke it open for them.”
Matthews drove in two more runs in the top of the seventh on an RBI single, going 2-for-4 at the plate while Hamilton also collected a pair of base hits for the visitors.
Hedgepeth, who also went 3-for-4 at the plate, collected his third win of the season by striking out six batters and allowing just the four base runners all game long.
Brett McLamb also recorded a pair of hits for the Hawks who improved to 6-1 on the season and 2-0 in conference. Triton has totaled 58 runs in its six wins.