When the realization hit John Beck that he was closing in on the possibility of pitching a baseball no-hitter, the South Lakes High junior attempted to strike down the thought from his mind.
“I started thinking it around the fifth inning and I tried to keep it out of my head,” said Beck, South Lakes’ No. 1 pitcher this spring.
Not an easy thing to do. But Beck went on to achieve the universal baseball milestone in the Seahawks’ 1-0 home win over Liberty District opponent Marshall last Wednesday evening, April 14. Over seven innings of work, the right hander struck out eight and walked none. Two Statesmen batters reached base in the game – both as a result of being hit by a pitch.
While Beck had first been conscious of the possibility of a no-hitter in the fifth inning, it really struck him in the dugout prior to taking the field for the top of the seventh inning.
“It really hit me then,” he said. “I really just tried to focus on the game [and not the no-hitter].”
Beck retired the side in order in the seventh to lift South Lakes to the district win and also gain a place in South Lakes’ baseball lore. The game’s final two outs came on a strikeout followed by a fly ball to sophomore right fielder Ryan Forrest.
“I was pretty ecstatic and all the players were pretty excited to,” said Beck, who had never before thrown a no-hitter at any level of baseball. “I think I really hit my spots real well and we played some great defense behind me. My fastball seemed to be working.”
Galvin Morris, South Lakes’ baseball coach, said Beck showed outstanding control for the most part and consistently worked ahead in the count. For the game he threw 85 pitches, a fairly low and efficient number for a seven inning high school game.
“If you get ahead in the count you’ll be successful,” said Morris. “It’s easier to pitch. He was on from the start. All his pitches were working – his fastball and cutter. He was hitting his spots well. To throw a no-hitter all of your pitches are going to have to be working. I’m real happy for him.”
<b>MORRIS</b> was so focused on the ball game’s strategy and score throughout that he was taken back when he learned following the conclusion of the pitcher’s duel that Beck had held Marshall hitless. He only learned of the feat when pitching coach Ernie Herring informed him.
“I didn’t know until after the game,” said Morris, smiling at the recollection. “As the coach I was making sure [in the latter innings] things were set up defensively. I wasn’t even thinking of a no-hitter.”
Morris recalled one well hit ball during the middle of the game in which Forrest, the South Lakes right fielder, had to run back and make a nice catch.
“It was smoked and our right fielder went back on the ball and made a great play on it,” said Morris. “He got spun around and everything but he made a great catch.”
The game was scoreless until South Lakes plated a run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Wilfredo Corps-Ortiz, with two outs, singled to center field. The base hit scored sophomore Nick Beaulac, who had earlier led the inning off with a double, from second base to put the Seahawks ahead, 1-0.
Beck, relieved that his team was on the scoreboard and within three outs of a win, retired the Marshall side in order in the seventh to close the game.
“Every out meant so much more,” said Beck, of the Statesmen seventh.
Beck’s battery mate in the game was sophomore catcher Austin Schweppe.
South Lakes, at the plate, got the two base hits from Corps-Ortiz and Beaulac in the sixth inning. Other Seahawks’ hits over the course of the game came from Kevin Ball, Will Sweet and Forrest.
Beck, who played youth baseball within the Vienna Little League, was a starting pitcher for the South Lakes JV team last year.
Occasionally he saw some varsity action out of the bullpen. This spring he has emerged as the varsity team’s ace. He is 4-1 for the season. He recorded two wins during the Seahawks’ recent spring break trip to Bluffton, South Carolina at the BATRUP tournament. His other wins have come over district opponents Jefferson and, of course, Marshall. Beck was scheduled to start at district rival Madison this week on Wednesday, April 21.
“He’s been throwing well and with a lot of confidence,” said Morris.