SYCAMORE – Sycamore ace Jack Mizgalski was only a few pitches away from being forced to hand the ball to coach Jacob Cavanaugh.
Instead, he finished off his first seven-inning no-hitter before he hit the maximum number of pitches a player can throw under a new IHSA rule in the Spartans' 5-0 victory over Hononegah on Tuesday night at Sycamore Park.
Mizgalski entered the seventh inning having thrown 76 pitches and finished with 99 – six shy of the newly mandated 105-pitch count. The Indians (1-6) loaded the bases in the seventh behind a fielding error and two walks before Mizgalski escaped the jam by forcing a groundout to third baseman Logan Riley.
"I wasn't thinking about the pitch count (in the final inning), I knew I was around 72 or something like that heading into the last inning," said Mizgalski, who finished with 12 strikeouts.
It was the second time this season that the Spartans (6-1) had played a seven inning game – they lost 9-7 at Burlington Central in the opener – and this was the first game that the new pitch count rule was a factor for the Spartans.
"He kept striking people out, it's like, just get a grounder and let's get this over with," Cavanaugh said of Mizgalski going up against the pitch count. "I wanted to get him to 80 (pitches) anyway going into the game, but then the pitches started to pile up. It was 80 then it was 85 and then it was 90 and then it was 95. I was like, 'Just force a double play and get this over with.'"
The Spartans continued their stretch of putting together big innings offensively, scoring all five of their runs against Hononegah in the fourth inning. It's the seventh time this season that they've scored five runs or more in an inning and they had won their past five games by a combined score of 67-5.
"I think it's old cliche, hitting is contagious," said Mizgalski, who reached base in all three appearences. "Once you see somebody get a hit, it's like, okay, why can't I do that? Then you go up and get a hit. We have a lot of confidence going up there."
Jacob Cavanaugh led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and after Trever Theis drew a walk, Riley laid down a sacrifice bunt to set up Jarod Montavon – the Spartans' No. 9 hitter.
Montavon launched a deep double to left field to score Cavanaugh and courtesy runner Derrick Crome to break the scoreless tie.
"I was just going into that at-bat looking for a good pitch," Montavon said. "That sacrifice bunt was huge and got the guys in scoring position and I got a good pitch to hit."
Montavon reached third base after the throw from the outfield wound up in the middle of the infield and eventually scored on a passed ball.
By the numbers: The Spartans only had four hits as a team, with singles from Cavanaugh, Mizgalski and Zach Carlsen and a double by Montavon. James Marcinkowski added an RBI sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth.
Beyond the stats: Mizgalski had at least two strikeouts in an inning five times in the game. Carlsen had warmed up in the bullpen in the bottom of the sixth and was available to come in for Mizgalski if needed.
They said it: "I think our lineup is pretty deep and we have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things," Cavanaugh said.
Up next: Sycamore hosts Hampshire at 4:30 p.m. Friday.