So charmed is the South baseball team that the Wolverines don’t even need a base hit to win a game.
That’s what happened Wednesday night at Mulcahy Stadium, where Eagle River’s Liam Lierman threw a no-hitter and lost 1-0 as South pulled another rabbit from its hat.
Gavin Partch outdueled Lierman in the ultimate pitcher’s battle as both hurlers went the distance in a Cook Inlet Conference league game that took 1 hour, 21 minutes to play.
Partch tossed a 1-hit shutout and benefitted from an early run as South improved to 6-1 in one-run games this year.
Lierman, a hard-throwing sophomore southpaw, struck out seven batters and shut down the Wolverines during his six-inning, 85-pitch effort.
The only run he allowed came in the second inning when he walked Blake Peterson, who came around the score after moving to second on a wild pitch, going to third on a balk and scoring on muffed bunt attempt that resulted in a stolen base.
With Peterson on third base and Kolby Jensen at the plate, the Wolverines (13-2, 4-2 CIC) called for a suicide squeeze play, but Jensen missed the bunt and then catcher Dallin Roberts missed the tag on Peterson.
“The baseball gods shine on you from time to time,” South coach Taylor Nerland said. “Both pitchers pitched lights out, and we just ended up getting lucky.”
It was a wild play and terrible way to lose for Lierman, who threw the 16th no-hitter in CIC history but became the first to lose the game.
OH, NO-NO HE DIDN’T
1994 – Randy Aquino, West
1994 – Darrel Bradley, Dimond
1998 – Joey Clark, Chugiak
2001 – Corey Madden & Erik Thompson, East
2003 – Anton Maxwell, East
2006 – Ben Rosen, Chugiak
2015 – Alex Schlegal, South
2015 – Sean Duffy, West
2016 – Jonny Homza, South
2017 – Jake Andresen, Dimond
2018 – Braden Olmstead, Eagle River
2019 – Camden Costanios, Chugiak
2019 – Patrick Leshan & Erik White, East
2022 – Caden Greenhalgh, West
2022 – Curtis Hebert, South
2023 – Liam Lierman, Eagle River
Lierman issued three walks and hit a batter. One of them was erased on the base paths after Roberts threw out a runner at second.
South’s Chase Mascelli walked and stole second in the sixth inning, the only other Wolverine to get into scoring position other than Peterson.
Lierman and Josh Thompson each reached base twice for the Wolves (10-5, 4-2 CIC).
The only hit of the game came in the fifth inning from Eagle River’s nine-hole hitter Dalton Smith, who punched a single to right field and clapped his hands as he reached first base. He knew.
Partch walked three and did not register a strikeout in his 92-pitch outing. His only 1-2-3 innings came in the second and seventh.
He threw strikes, trusted his defense and fielded his position. He had three assists and started a 1-6-3 double play to end the fifth inning.
“Gavin is one of our guys that coming into the season we knew what we would get each game,” Nerland said. “He is going to compete on the mound, pitch his butt off and hopefully we will make some plays behind him. Thus far he has been great on the mound.”
Partch retired 10 of the first 11 batters before issuing a leadoff walk to Lierman in the fourth inning. After an error by the third baseman put a second runner on base, Partch retired the next two hitters to escape the jam. He got out of another two-on, one-out pickle the following inning thanks to a double play.
Lierman was sharper than a knife’s edge, striking out six of the first seven batters and registering three 1-2-3 frames.
“He was great,” Nerland said. “I could tell from the get-go that we were going to have our work cut out for us tonight. He was dialed in; his fastball had some great run and he was throwing his off-speed consistently for strikes.”
Even when facing a pitcher on point, the Wolverines still find a way to win. They have done that a lot this year – and they were supposed to be rebuilding after losing a ton of talent from back-to-back undefeated state championship seasons.
This was South’s second one-run victory over Eagle River this year, continuing a trend as six of the team’s 13 wins have come in white-knuckle-ride fashion.
Winning that many close games doesn’t come by accident. Credit the South coaching staff for maximizing the potential of this group.
“The coaches on our staff, Mascelli, Maltby, Dannenbring, Jones, Woodall, James have a lot to do with our success,” Nerland said. “Their dedication over the past number of years has really buoyed our success.”