HURLEY — Hurley pitcher Grant Innes took a no-hitter into the fifth inning as the Midgets breezed past Cornell/Lake Holcombe 11-0 in Friday’s WIAA Division 3 regional opener.
Innes struck out 10, two in every inning of the five-inning game. The other out in the first four innings was a groundout.
“That just seemed to be the rhythm there for awhile,” Innes said. “Four-seem fastball was blowing ‘em by pretty good. That just seemed to be my No. 1 along with the two-seam and curve.”
The only ball that reached the outfield off a Cornell/LH bat came on John Stender’s one-out hit in the fifth. And that wasn’t deep at all.
Innes allowed only three baserunners — the fifth-inning hit, an error in the same inning and a second-inning walk.
The No. 3 seeded Midgets head to No. 2 Phillips on Tuesday for a regional semifinal. A time may not be known until Tuesday, but it’s probably either at 4:30 p.m or 5 p.m.
No. 5 Ladysmith beat No. 4 Flambeau 13-4 Friday and will travel to No. 1 Chequamegon Tuesday in the other semifinal.
Innes started playing baseball this year as a senior after making it to the state track-and-field meet last year in shot put.
“He’s throwing well,” Hurley manager Aaron Bender said. “It’d be very interesting to see where he’d be if he put three or four years in. Kudos to him for what he’s done in the other sports, but I’ll tell you what, hard-throwing pitchers are eagerly sought after.”
Innes lost his no-hitter about 2.5 hours before the Detroit Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez lost his in the final inning for the Detroit Tigers.
“I wasn’t really worried about it as long as we got out of the inning without any runs,” Innes said.
After Innes retired the side in order to start the game, Hurley scored three runs in the bottom of the first off of two hits and two errors.
Hurley added five more runs in the third inning.
The Midgets led off the inning with five consecutive hits.
P.J. Lipske started with an infield single and Brad Vaara doubled to right. Roman Lupino brought them home with a double. Steven Chavers plated Lupino with a base hit. Jared Wendt singled and came home on a sacrifice fly by Beau Shafer.
Hurley led 8-0.
Another three-spot in the fourth inning helped Hurley end the game after 4.5 innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Lupino singled and stole second and third. Chavers and Wendt both walked. Mike Saari hit a sac fly to center to score Lupino.
Shafer knocked in a run and Wendt went home on a balk.
Innes came into the fifth with a chance at the no-hitter. A runner reached to lead off the inning when Innes and the third baseball collided and then Innes overthrew to first. That was an error, though, so he still had a shot.
After a strikeout, Stender hit a short single to right.
“Maybe if that other guy doesn’t get on with the error, it would have been a little bit different,” Bender said. “You’ve got a little different way you can approach things and he doesn’t have to throw out of the stretch. Things happen, but he wasn’t upset about it. The rest of us and the two coaches were. It kind of sucks, but it happens.
“He threw well, that’s what we’re going to need from him and the other guys that we’re going to have to use hopefully the next two games.”
Cornell/LH came in at 2-5 with a young team still building in the second year of a co-op.
“Get it going and get the kids used to each other that it’s combined,” manager John Lee said. “There’s a little bit of a problem. We didn’t have a real good turnout. There’s a couple of kids that are injured, too. It’s been a trying year along with the bad weather.
“We’ve played better than that. Our pitcher had a sore arm. Defensively we’ve played better ball than that. We have bad innings once and a while and then they fall apart.”
Hurley never gave the No. 6 seed any life Friday.
“We weren’t challenged at all tonight,” Bender said. “After the layover since Monday and the letdown against Washburn, I kind of wanted to see our guys get challenged a little bit. They did well at the plate. We executed some bunts, we executed some steals. So that was fine. We hit the ball pretty well.
“The wind was hanging everything up tonight. Usually it’s an airport here. Tonight, it was just sitting up there. I thought Brad Vaara with the bases loaded, I didn’t even think twice, I was waving guys home. I thought that was a for sure gapper and they caught it. Roman’s, I thought, it should have rolled to the fence, and it died. He still got a double out of it.”
Lipske, Lupino, Chavers and Wendt all scored two runs. Cole Huotari had three hits and Vaara and Lupino each had two.
Now the debate: Pitch the ace Innes in Tuesday’s game and not have him for the regional final or risk it Tuesday for the best shot at getting to the final.
Cornell/LH 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 1 2
Hurley 3 0 5 3 x — 11 11 1