BY JOHN DUBOIS
The steady progress that Kyle Brazas and the Westville Tigers have made hit new heights Wednesday as the junior threw a no hitter to lead the Tigers to a 1-0 win over the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils.
Brazas, who improved to 2-2, struck out eight and walked one and faced 25 batters — four over the minimum.
“This is the first no-hitter I have thrown on any level and it is very exciting,’’ Brazas said. “I’ve been working hard in practice on my control and knew I had to throw strikes.’’
Following a six-win season in 2011 and a 10-win season in 2012, the Tigers finish the regular season with an overall record of 13-10-1 and 10-5-1 in the Vermilion Valley Conference, but unlike their previous win over the Blue Devils (14-6) this game was in doubt until the final out.
Brazas and Blue Devils starter Dylan Dodd controlled the first three innings of the game with Brazas setting down the first nine batters he faced while Dodd allowed only two hits.
Dodd would become the Blue Devils first base runner when he reached on an error leading off the fourth.
The game was decided in the fifth when Billy Eldridge lead off with a single and was pinch run for by Christian Jackson.
Jackson advanced to second on an errant pick off throw and to third on a wild pitch. Dillon Turner walked and promptly stole second.
With runners on second and third Turner was picked off second and got in a run down, but he was able to keep the play alive long enough for Jackson to score. Turner was ultimately safe at second.
“That was an interesting situation where you yell at a guy for getting picked off and then end up congratulating him,’’ Westville coach Joe Brazas said. “That play was pure athleticism on the part of Dillon Turner and it feels really good as a coach to see a guy not give up on a play and get your team a win that way.’’
A hit batter, an error, and a walk would load the bases for the Blue Devils in the bottom of the sixth, but Kyle Brazas was able to strike out the next two batters to escape the jam.
“I’ve been working on my motion and not trying to over throw,’’ Kyle Brazas said. “I was able to get my change up over and got the two strikeouts.’’
Joe Brazas was especially impressed with what he saw from the right hander in the sixth.
“Kyle has been working very hard on his command and working counts,’’ he said. “Kyle got strong in the sixth and got it done.’’
The Blue Devils would threaten one final time in the seventh getting a runner to second with no outs.
Westville catcher Tristan Flynn played a big role defensively catching two runners trying to steal second.
“Coach (Tim) Holycross works with our catchers and Tristan plays every other game,’’ Joe Brazas said. “It feels great as a coach and is like a dream come true when you catch runners trying to steal because those are often unexpected outs in a game and that makes everyone on the field feel good.’’
Dodd struck out six and walked one in what was ultimately another hard-luck loss for the Blue Devils who are now 5-12 overall, 4-11 VVC.
“We have played several tough teams in a row and played them very tough, but we just can’t get over the hump,’’ Bismarck-Henning coach Michael Packard said. “Dylan is a freshman who has been solid all year and he did a heck of a job for us today.’’
Bismarck-Henning closes out the regular season with a game on Friday against Oakwood, while Westville is idle until its regional game against Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman on Monday.