By Jeff Nations - firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- Six games into the season heading into Monday's home baseball matchup against Buffalo Gap at Rebel Park, Stonewall Jackson was still looking for its first win of the season.
Time for extreme measures? Colton Harlow thought so.
The sophomore left-hander, starting for the Generals, delivered the pitching performance of the season for his team by no-hitting the Bison as Stonewall Jackson finally broke through for a 6-0 victory.
The no-hitter was the first of Harlow's career -- varsity, Little League, Pee Wee, you name it. And until around the fifth inning, Harlow didn't know he was close until Generals assistant coach Kevin Long clued him in.
"Coach Long came up to me and said, 'Look at the hits column,' and I looked up a saw a zero," Harlow said. "I was pretty surprised, but then I was like, 'All right, now I've got to go out there and keep it that way.'"
Harlow (1-2) did indeed, although the final inning didn't close without some trouble. Harlow, who had less than pinpoint control (six walks) all day, put Buffalo Gap pinch hitter Zach Trumbo on first base with a four-pitch walk to lead off the seventh.
Trumbo promptly stole second to get into scoring position, but Harlow let him get no further as he got back-to-back strikeouts against Dalton Vetter and Kinzer Driver, then got Tyler Wilcher to fly out to right field to end the game.
"I think it pretty much pumped me up," Harlow said. "It was in my head, and I knew I had to go out there and get the job done for these guys."
Buffalo Gap coach Chris Thompson said Harlow's off-and-on control hurt his team.
"It keeps us off balance, that's what you need," Thompson said of Harlow, who had 11 strikeouts. "He had a heckuva game."
"I think the term is effectively wild," Stonewall Jackson coach Mike Lenox said. "He walked four or five batters, but he battled when he needed to. When you can do that, it kind of throws the hitters off and keeps them guessing a little bit more instead of pumping strikes all the time."
Generals catcher Bradley Henschel, a junior varsity call-up earlier this season, caught all seven innings of Harlow's no-hitter.
Stonewall Jackson (1-6, 1-1 Shenandoah District) broke through for three runs in the third despite hitting just one ball out of the infield. Matt Litten led off with a single and Sergio Martinez followed with another. Jared Getz was safe on a fielder's choice, and Litten scored when pitcher Cody McLain's throw went awry. Harlow drove in another run on a fielder's choice, and Kory Somers completed the scoring by bringing in a run with an infield single.
The Generals, who had a season-high 11 hits and tied a season high with six runs, delivered another three-run rally in the sixth. Alex Collins doubled in a run, Anthony Peacher dropped down a safety squeeze to plate another and Harlow helped himself again with an RBI single.
"We've been working hard all year," said Litten, who was 3-for-3 and scored two runs. "I think everybody just went up there with confidence this time and was thinking, 'I'm going to hit the ball the first time I get a chance.'"
Buffalo Gap's lone run came in the fourth. Alex Weller drew a lead-off walk, stole second and eventually scored on a wild pitch. But Harlow stranded Jacob Truxell at second after issuing a walk to him by striking out Vetter to end the inning.
Getz, Collins and Somers each added two hits apiece for the Generals. Getz also scored two runs in the victory.
"I've been preaching all year that they have the potential to play games like that and to perform like that," Lenox said. "It just takes one time, one ball to go your way, for you to start believing. I think, when we scored those three runs in the second inning, it went our way. We started getting balls that have happened to us happen to them today. We started getting breaks go our way."