By Josh Brown
MIAMISBURG — Deep, dominant, reliable: all words that accurately describe the Tippecanoe baseball team’s pitching staff.
After Friday, the Red Devils can be described another way.
Zach Losey and Ian Yunker combined on the Devils’ second consecutive postseason no-hitter — one that began on Thursday and ended on Friday — as top-seeded Tippecanoe held off No. 7 Bellbrook 2-0 at Miamisburg High School in the Division II sectional final.
“It definitely feels good to get the win and move on in the tournament,” said starter Losey, who struck out four, walked three and hit two batters in five-plus innings of work. “We’ve definitely got the pitching to go deep. Honestly, it feels like we can go out and do this every single day.”
The numbers support that, too.
Tippecanoe improved to 25-3 on the season, winning their fifth straight overall, third straight via shutout — and not allowing any hits for the second straight tournament game. Last week, Kenten Egbert threw a no-hitter in a five-inning run-rule win over Alter to begin the Devils’ postseason run.
“Two tournament games, and two no-hitters,” Tippecanoe coach Bruce Cahill said. “Zach, last year he only pitched 2-3 of an inning, so for him to give us five good innings today — spread out over two days — we’ll take it. And he fielded his position well both days, too.”
On Thursday, the Devils took a 1-0 lead after the bottom of the first, but the game was suspended due to rain and lightning and resumed on Friday with two outs in the top of the second and a Bellbrook runner on second base. But Losey got a groundout on the first pitch to end that threat and left the game in the top of the sixth with a runner on first and sporting a two-run lead.
“No, it wasn’t difficult,” Losey said when asked if it was difficult to get back to the same level of intensity after the rain delay and one-day wait. “During the tournament, it’s four days of practice and then you finally get to play. Any day you actually get to play a game, you’re excited.”
Yunker entered in the sixth with a runner on, and another Bellbrook batter reached on a wild pitch on a third strike to put runners on the corners. But Yunker induced a short pop back to himself to get out of the jam, then he pitched a one-two-three seventh inning to seal the win.
And Yunker — who had two strikeouts in two innings of work — didn’t even realize he had entered the game protecting a no-hitter.
“No, but honestly, even if I did, I would’ve had the same mentality every time I go out — just get the job done,” he said. “Coach told me I should be ready to go. For Losey to come back and go a few more innings after he had a day off was big, and I knew I had to be ready no matter what the circumstances were.
“I kind of forget about it (the tense situations) sometimes when I’m on the mound, then I get back to the dugout and I’m like ‘man, I’m glad I got out of that.’ I’ve been in that situation a lot, especially last year coming in as a reliever.”
“Ian just does what he does,” Cahill said. “When his curveball is like it was tonight, he’s tough. And he was on tonight. Zach and Ian just went out and pounded the strike zone.”
That all left Tippecanoe only needing one run to win it — and they entered Friday having already scored that. In the first inning on Thursday, leadoff hitter Miles McClurg singled, then he went from first to third on an errant pickoff attempt and eventually scored on a two-out RBI single by Egbert to give the Devils a 1-0 lead — which they carried into play on Friday when the game resumed.
And in the fifth, McClurg’s speed got the Devils an important insurance run. He beat out a two-out bunt single and quickly stole second to get in scoring position, then Cole Barhorst drove him in with an RBI single that found its way through the hole at short to make it 2-0 after five.
“Miles is about as pesky as it gets,” Cahill said with a laugh. “He’s just had a great year for us. A couple hits, a stolen base, and yesterday in the first inning they tried to pick him and he went from first to third, then scored on Kenten’s hit. He makes things happen. That’s what he does for us. And Clay Barhorst continues to hit the ball well — and he can run, too, with a couple stolen bases today.”
McClurg finished the game 2 for 3 with a stolen base and two runs, Cole Barhorst and Egbert were both 1 for 3 with an RBI and Clay Barhorst was 2 for 3 with two steals.
All of that leaves Tippecanoe with an incredibly quick turnaround for its next game — the Red Devils travel to Mason at 11 a.m. Saturday to face the winner between Ross and Taylor in the district final.
“I’m kind of glad, really. We didn’t play for so long (after the first tournament win),” Cahill said. “Now we’re getting back to playing every day, and we’d rather do that.”
“Our deep pitching staff definitely helps with that,” Losey said.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.