Claremore junior catcher Matt Whatley has caught his share of ‘no-hitters’ but none more impressive than Friday’s jewel by senior left-hander Jacob Teague.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound hurler used his crafty curveball to dominate No. 7 McAlester, and lead the No. 2 Zebras to a 15-0 win in the Tiger/Zebra Classic.
“That’s the way you make a statement to the 5A people,” Claremore head coach Brent Payne told his players after the game.
“Jacob Teague ... what a great game.”
Teague (3-1) stayed in the zone throughout the game and finished with 11 strikeouts despite two walks.
“At first, I was pretty amped up, but then I settled in and allowed by curve ball to work for me,” Teague said.
The only time Teague’s heart might stopped for a split second came in McAlester’s final at-bat with two outs in the top of the fifth inning.
Up 1-2 in the count and the adrenaline rushing through his veins, Teague’s fastball caught the end of Jon Birckman’s bat and sailed toward shallow left field.
Claremore shortstop T.J. Wood leaped high into the air and snagged the line drive to secure his teammate’s no-hitter.
“Never once did I look at the scoreboard,” Teague said on the possibility of tossing his second no-hitter of the season.
Teague’s no-hitter was aided by Claremore’s explosive offense in the first two innings.
Claremore four runs in the first and then answered with 11 more in the second — all coming with two outs.
Bryce Howe delivered a 3-run triple in the first inning and Teague had a sacrifice groundout to plate a run to put Claremore up 4-0.
“Bryce’s triple was a very big hit that got us going,” Payne said.
Andrew Byington opened the bottom half of the second with a standup single to left field.
McAlester starting pitcher (Jon) Birckman picked up two quick outs on defense, and then the Zebra hit parade started.
Isaac Hollihan’s RBI-single started off a series of four straight hits — including Whatley’s 2-run double that extended Claremore’s lead to 8-0.
Tyler Cagle reached first on a fielding error by the McAlester third baseman, and then Byington followed with a double to right field.
Back-to-back RBI-singles by Brandon Varnell and Cole Weiesnbach increased Claremore’s lead to 12-0.
The merry-go-round continued with Wood’s double driving in Varnell, and Hollihan’s 2-run double plating Weiesnbach and Wood to make it 15-0.
“We stayed really disciplined at the plate and had a lot of timely hits against a traditionally-rich club,” Payne said. “McAlester came in ready to compete, but I was proud of the way our boys jumped on them early.”
Payne also praised his left-handed pitcher (Teague) who’s first no-hitter came against Skiatook.
“We’ve been bringing Jacob along slow, but here in the first of April, it was time to see what’s he got,” Payne said. “He proved something tonight and had great command on the mound with his curveball and change-up.”
Teague credited the Zebras’ offense for taking the pressure off his shoulders.
“We weren’t anything different than usual, just putting the ball in play and making them make plays.”
The win for Claremore improved the Zebras record to 13-3 on the season.
Claremore closed out the classic Saturday in the championship against Booker T. Washington.