The Oregon municipal recreation complex was the site of a little déjà vu on Friday night.
Nine days after Clay junior softball pitcher Brooke Gallaher threw a five-inning no-hitter, senior Jordan Grosjean and the baseball Eagles repeated that feat.
Grosjean struck out six batters, and one third-inning walk was all that separated him from a perfect game in Clay’s 10-0 Three Rivers Athletic Conference victory over Central Catholic.
The Central Michigan-bound pitcher raised his season record to 4-0, and lowered his ERA to 0.54. He has 37 strikeouts in 26 innings for Clay (6-6, 3-0 TRAC).
“I’m not going to lie,” Grosjean said after being splashed by a celebratory post-game sports drink bath from teammates. “That felt good. I feel like I had everything working today. I was working a lot of curveballs in. They’re a good hitting team, so you can’t just go in there and throw fastballs around the plate.”
Grosjean also was part of the Eagles’ 11-hit attack, which was paced by sophomore shortstop and leadoff hitter Ryan Fournier, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles, three RBIs, and three runs scored.
The only real threat posed by the Irish (4-7, 1-2) to Grosjean’s no-hitter came in fifth inning, when starting pitcher Chad Kuebler hit a sinking liner to right field. Clay senior outfielder Ethan Gerrard, who replaced starter Matt York in right, dived to make the catch and preserve the gem.
“He had good command of his fastball, which allowed him to get ahead in counts, and use some off-speed pitches,” Eagles coach Garry Isbell said. “He pounded the strike zone pretty well, and we expect that out of him when he’s on the mound. And, we expect to compete at a high level when he’s on the mound.”
Grosjean closed out the top of the fifth by striking out Kam Weber and getting Ryan O’Hearn on a soft liner to Eagles third baseman Bryce Castilleja in foul territory.
The game ended by mercy rule with two out in the bottom of the fifth.
With Central down 7-0, Irish relief pitcher Noah Pierce struck out Grosjean and Gerrard to start the inning.
Kyle Row drew a walk, Pierce hit Josh Pennington with a pitch, and Jay Smith hit an RBI single to right field. Fournier closed things by slamming a two-run double off the fence in left-center.
The Eagles got three runs on three hits off of Kuebler in the first inning, highlighted by an RBI double by Lucas Robson (2-for-2). Grosjean also singled in a run.
“It was great watching our bats come alive finally, and be a part of that,” Grosjean said. “We had been in kind of a funk.”
Clay scored two runs on one hit, plus a walk, and a Central error in the third inning, and added two more on four hits in the fourth.
In the latter rally, Pennington doubled and scored on a double by Fournier, who came home on a single by Castilleja (2-for-3) for the 7-0 lead.
“Jordan’s obviously one of the best,” Central coach Jeff Mielcarek said. “Not only in our league, but around the area.
“He’s going Division I [college baseball] for a reason, and today was about as good as I’ve seen him pitch. Also, we’re struggling right now, and that’s a bad combination.”
Isbell was pleased with his team’s best all-around game of the season thus far, but acknowledged that winning the TRAC — which uses a playoff format to determine its champion — won’t be an easy task.
“That 10-0 score is not indicative of how good Central is,” Isbell said. “They may come back and smack us.
"But the kids played well today. They hit the ball, and Jordan threw a great game. This is huge as a confidence builder for us.”
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com, 419-724-6461, or on Twitter@JungaBlade.