Each starting pitching performance for Woodside junior Harry Pelzman has been better than the last. But Thursday’s gem at Hillsdale is going to be tough to top.
Pelzman fired the first no-hitter of his life to lead the Wildcats to a 1-0 victory over Hillsdale. He faced just one batter over the minimum, with the only Knights base-runner in the game reaching on an error in the second inning.
The junior left-hander persevered, though, locking up with Hillsdale sophomore Jake Belloni for a marvelous pitching duel. Pelzman needed just 93 pitches while striking out 10, including a swinging strike on a high fastball to end it.
“I was hyped,” Pelzman said. “As soon as I saw him swing and miss, and I saw my catcher catch it, I was ecstatic. I was yelling and all that. An unreal feeling.”
Prior to this season, Pelzman had only ever started one game in his life — a junior-varsity game as a sophomore when he was at Serra prior to transferring to Woodside this season.
He’s been a welcome addition to the Wildcats’ rotation this year, now boasting a 3-0 record with a 1.17 ERA. The no-no also comes on the heels of another Woodside gem, when senior right-hander Chris Fancher took a no-hitter into the seventh inning April 18 against El Camino, only to surrender a hit with one out in the seventh in an eventual 15-4 Woodside victory.
Hillsdale countered with Belloni, who threw a gem in his own right. The sophomore yielded just six hits while striking out 11, and earned the tough-luck complete game loss. Pelzman and Belloni traded zeroes through the first four innings, until Woodside broke through with the game’s only run in the fifth.
“Just two lefties battling it out,” Wildcats manager Dan Rogers said.
Pelzman has been involved in some good pitching duels this season. His previous start, a 2-1 home win against San Mateo on April 27, also remained scoreless into the fifth. Thursday’s matchup with Belloni certainly brought the best out of him.
“It just kept a fire under me, just staying competitive, not giving up,” Pelzman said. “I just kept my confidence up and was still going 110%, just all out. If we’re not going to get runs, this what I’ve got to do. But the team pulled through, and we got a run. And that’s the big reason we won.”
Rogers said. Pelzman’s aggressive approach in getting strike one was the key.
“He had first pitch strikes on a majority of the guys,” Rogers said. “His fastball he was locating down in the zone and his slider was moving pretty well. Guys were having trouble catching up to his fastball, and, when they did, he threw that slider to get them off balance.”
Pelzman credited the second baseman Fancher with making two nice defensive plays to keep the no-hitter intact. The first was a rangy play to his left on a hard hit ball into the hole; Fancher went into a knee slide to corral it and quickly popped to his feet to make the throw to first. Later in the game, Fancher charged a slow bounder just to the left of Pelzman to make an off-balance throw to first.
Center fielder Vincent Vazquez also recovered nicely on a line drive to center in the fourth. Vazquez initially took a step back, but then recalibrated and sprinted straight in and crouched down to make a belt-high running catch.
Hillsdale’s only base runner reached in the second on a shallow pop-up to the left side between the shortstop, third baseman and left fielder.
“It was kind of a little bloop in a Bermuda Triangle ... and one of our guys got a glove on it and it just popped out of his glove,” Rogers said.
Pelzman said he only shook off catcher Jayce Enochs four times in the game. Enochs, a junior, called all his own pitches — a rarity in high school baseball, where coaches relay pitch calls to the catcher a vast majority of the time.
Woodside scored the game’s only run in the fifth thanks to the return of Connor Davison. The junior was making his second start of the year, this after exiting the Wildcats’ season opener with an injury. Davison entered the day with just four at-bats on the year, by his leadoff single in the fifth set the table. The junior then stole two bases on consecutive pitches, then scored on a passed ball.
“We had other opportunities,” Rogers said. “We got guys in scoring position and just couldn’t capitalize. ... Their guy just kept our hitters at bay in some big opportunities.”
Pelzman’s no-hitter is the third by a Woodside pitcher over the past 10 years. Jamie Kruger threw one against Jefferson in 2015. Tim Goode Jr., in his final varsity game as a senior in 2017, threw a no-hitter in a losing effort against Terra Nova.
Rogers said Pelzman’s performance was a needed answer to Hillsdale’s 15-0 win Tuesday in the opening game of the two-game series. The Knights rallied for 13 runs in the fifth inning in support of right-hander Nick Strezo’s three-hit shutout. The win put second-place Hillsdale three games ahead of third-place Woodside with three games to play on the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division schedule. With Thursday’s win, Hillsdale is now two games back with two games to play.
Only the top two finishers in the PAL Ocean race are guaranteed a Central Coast Section playoff bid.
“Everybody was fired up and ran to the mound to pump him up,” Rogers said. “But it was also a big win for the team.”
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