Last week, Yosemite JV baseball player Nick Pierce earned perhaps the best birthday gift - throwing his first no hitter, against rival Sierra High School, in a 3-0 victory a single day before he turned 16 years old.
“It felt really good,” Pierce said. “It was a pretty good birthday present. It was something amazing, and it doesn’t happen that often. I’m pretty happy with it.”
Completing the rare achievement wasn’t easy for Pierce, a sophomore. Head Coach Eric McLane said last season, Pierce was unhappy that he wasn’t earning much playing time.
“There was a point at which I remember saying to him, ‘putting your head down in the dugout will not get you on the field any faster,’” McLane said. “Ultimately, the main message of the conversation was ‘you need to earn it.’”
Through a combination of playing in summer and fall leagues, upping his practice regimen, and relying on the defensive feats of his teammates, Pierce certainly earned the no hitter.
In the fifth inning, the chance for a perfect game was ended when a ground ball was hit to Henry Curley, who mishandled it, which led to Sierra’s first and only base runner of the game.
“You could tell he was very upset with himself,” McLane said. “He wasn’t upset because he was worried about himself. He was upset because he didn’t want to let his teammate down.”
To redeem himself, Curley kept Pierce’s no hitter intact in the final inning of the game. When a ball was hit over the head of the team’s third baseman, and appeared ready to drop for a hit, Curley laid out on an incredible diving catch for the save.
Factor in a throw by catcher Sage Crosswhite to get an out from an attempted steal, and Pierce’s no hitter was solidified.
Plus, McLane said, you can’t get a win without runs. And who scored them?
Pierce, Curley, and Crosswhite.
“This was truly a story about a team of young men who are of extremely high character,” McLane said. “They set a tremendous example of how the game should be played and how one should react to adversity.”
“Our defense was amazing, and the team did great,” Pierce said. “Thanks to practicing, hard work, my team, and my coaches, I was able to make this happen.”