tampabay.com

Gators left-hander no-hits Wildcats

By MIKE TOMPKINS
Published March 29, 2005


LAND O'LAKES - Land O'Lakes left-hander Jonathon Cornelius pitched a no-hitter, striking out eight and walking one as the Gators defeated Wesley Chapel 1-0.

The Gators' lone run came in the sixth, when Caz Piurowski was balked in by Randal Briggs. Briggs was nearly as impressive as Cornelius, holding the Gators to three hits while striking out six and hitting two.

"When we scored that run, I thought (the no-hitter) could happen," Cornelius said. "I was just trying not to overthrow. When my teammates made the errors, I was kind of disappointed, but I knew they'd back me up when it mattered."

It was Land O'Lakes' first no-hitter since Derek Thompson's perfect game in a 12-0 defeat of Zephyrhills in 2000.

"Outstanding performance," Gators coach Calvin Baisley said. "The kid was throwing a no-no in the seventh inning, so he wasn't coming out. If he would have walked a couple of guys, we had Caz ready. But Jonathon was cruising. Right from the get-go, this was a pitcher's night."

Both teams had few scoring opportunities. With one out in the third, Ryan Rigau reached on an error for Land O'Lakes (6-1) and moved to second on Danny Sutton's groundout. Jacob Neely was then hit by a pitch, but Piurowski flew out to the rightfield warning track.

The only real opportunity for Wesley Chapel (7-4) came in the fifth. Matt Wells reached on an error and moved to second on Anthony Rawson's groundout to second. The next batter, Jason Smith, hit a grounder back to Cornelius, who turned and fired to third, nailing Wells. Barry Geiger reached on another error, and Smith hustled his way to third. But Smith was thrown out at home on a squeeze.

The game was the first between Baisley and first-year Wildcat coach Erik Shafer, a former Gator catcher. The 1997 graduate said the game was "definitely a rush."

"This is my alma mater. This is my family, my friends, and he's my coach," Shafer said. "I knew walking in that his team would be ready. Calvin's teams find a way to win, and that's what you have to do in high school baseball."