TAMPA - Mitch Houck started the season as a relief pitcher buried in the Cypress Bay lineup. He ended it Saturday at Legends Field, throwing a no-hitter to give his team the Class 6A championship.
Cypress Bay, a 2-year-old school in Weston, fed off Houck's performance, broke a tie in the seventh and posted a 2-1 victory against Miami Killian.
Houck, a junior left-hander, and Killian pitcher Justin Weiss threw solid games after the teams tied the score at one in the third. But Houck's performance was mostly untouchable.
Killian (22-8) loaded the bases in the third when Houck walked his only two hitters of the game. In between, he hit a batter. But after a sacrifice fly to centerfield tied it at 1, Houck bore down.
"That was definitely a turning point," said Houck, who began the season as a reliever and moved up the depth chart because of injuries to other pitchers. "I told myself I can't allow another run. I had a feeling it was going to be a close game and it worked out well."
After retiring three Cougars in a row to get out of the third, Houck struck out the side in the fourth and fifth and retired three in a row each inning the rest of the way. Houck (4-1) finished with 11 strikeouts and allowed only one ball to be hit out of the infield.
Weiss, meanwhile, pitched well after loading the bases in the second. A bases-loaded infield grounder by Nick Choto scored Houck, who had walked and advanced to third on a double by designated hitter Kevin Stabile.
Weiss battled with Houck from that point, keeping the Lightning offense in check until the last inning. Weiss (5-2), who allowed five hits while striking out five and walking two, found trouble in the seventh. Singles from Stabile and Eddie Suarez set up Scott Urbanek's sacrifice fly to rightfield to send Stabile home for the winning run for Cypress Bay (30-2).
"Those were two good high school pitchers going at it," Miami Killian coach Pete Hertler said.
"We have to tip our hat to Houck. As a coach it's frustrating because we only had one chance to do something and he just stuffed us today."