Hays Rebel senior Aidan Martinez knew all eyes were on him when the scoreboard showed two outs in the top of the seventh frame Monday.
All game long, Martinez kept a proficient Lehman Lobos offense hitless over the course of 6.2 innings in what was a 4-0 Rebel win.
Getting that last out, however, weighed on the mind of Martinez, his teammates and coaches. All knew what was on the line.
“I knew what I wanted and I had to go get it,” Martinez said.
By virtue of a routine ground ball out to second base, Martinez earned the third no-hitter of his career, the second during his time on the mound at Hays. It was a special moment for Martinez, who notched the accolade in front of family and friends, some of whom traveled from out-of-state.
“I was happy to go out there and perform for them,” Martinez said. “Also, it being a rivalry game, you got to not only show up, but also shut down the school across the highway.”
Hays (18-2, 4-1) not only leaned on Martinez’ arm, but also received key defensive plays during the contest as well. Martinez lauded his teammates who played a key role in his no-hitter.
Rebel head coach James Howard said Martinez had “the best stuff he’s had all year.” Martinez’ ability to hit his spots in the strike zone and locating his fastball kept Lehman’s key hitters, primarily the middle of the Lobo order, off-balance, Howard said. Martinez finished with seven strikeouts over seven innings and was two walks shy of a perfect game.
Meanwhile, Hays’ offense battled against Lobo starting pitcher Shane Miles, who struck out four and walked three batters in 6.2 innings of work.
Timely hits, as well as manufacturing runners into scoring position, was the key as Miles pounded the zone and was effective, Howard said. Miles gave up four runs on seven hits, but also stranded seven Rebel baserunners during the game as well.
Hays took a 2-0 lead in the second frame guided by an RBI single from Seth Stevenson and an RBI double by Garrison Vaughn.
The Rebel lead expanded to 3-0 in the fifth frame via an RBI double from Zane Lilijidahl. Hays scored its fourth run via a pair of Lobo throwing errors in the sixth inning.
Despite the loss, Lobo head coach Toby Robinson said his team is fine and has been playing “with a lot of heart” in recent weeks. That includes a close one-run loss to state and nationally ranked Lake Travis, as well as a close loss to Del Valle.
“We’re almost there, but we have to put it all together on the same day,” Robinson said.
Getting back on track following a close loss to Austin High Friday was critical, Martinez said.
However, taking care of the fundamentals and having to earn wins is what is also necessary, Howard said. That extends to an upcoming March 26 home contest against district-leading and red-hot Lake Travis.
“We’re going to approach it like every game. But they know as well as I do, you have to do the little things right. You can’t give them (Lake Travis) things and expect to win,” Howard said. “Against good teams, you have to focus on fundamentals.”