By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
After catching a no-hitter from freshman teammate Jonny Chavez in his first career varsity start, Plainsmen catcher Christian Voitik had a tough act to follow in his own first-ever varsity pitching start in the nightcap.
By night’s end, Voitik’s performance might have been even better.
Chavez and Voitik dazzled U.S. Grant’s overmatched lineup throughout, and both went the distance without allowing a hit, each earning 12-0 run-rule wins.
“It lived up to be really good,” said Chavez, who struck out five and walked two. “It turned out to be really good.”
“I couldn’t let the freshman go out there and take all the spotlight,” Voitik joked after striking out seven and walking one.
“Back-to-back no hitters?” Enid coach Bill Mayberry said. “The last time I saw that, I was playing in college, so that’s been a long time.”
The Plainsmen (5-9, 2-4 in 6A-4) netted their first two district wins of the season, vaulting from seventh to fifth- place in the district. U.S. Grant (7-7, 0-7) remained at the bottom of the 6A-4 standings. The Generals have been outscored 128-1 in seven district games this season.
“We’ve been on the other end of that (12-0) score,” Mayberry said. “We know what that’s like. You’ve got to respect the game, and respect your opponents and everything else.”
Enid started fast in both games of the doubleheader, batting around in the bottom of the first inning in each game to lead 6-0 after one in the opener and 7-0 in the nightcap.
In both cases, it was more than the Plainsmen needed.
Chavez threw six pitches before his first strike in the opener, walking Generals catcher Aaron Waller and falling behind 2-0 to first baseman David Vargas. Waller was caught stealing and Vargas struck out looking to end the inning and start a run of seven-straight batters set down by Chavez, three on strikeouts. U.S. Grant pitcher Mario Arroyo, who took the loss in the opener, reached on the only Plainsmen error of the game, but Chavez recovered, striking out Waller on the next at-bat.
“I felt comfortable on the mound,” Chavez said. “I just wasn’t quite ready yet, but I got it.”
Chavez’s debut was nearly spoiled on the Generals’ penultimate out, when designated hitter Fernando Moncayo blooped what seemed to be a sure single in shallow right field, but 6-foot-4 first baseman Jerry Kearney lept just high enough to snare the ball and preserve the no-hitter.
“I thought I was going to have to dive,” said Kearney, who also had an RBI, three runs and two stolen bases on the night. “I got a good jump on it, for sure. I just used all my height to go up there and get it.”
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it can’t be,’” said Chavez, who topped out at 83 mph with his fastball. “When he caught it, it was a big relief.”
Chavez got the game’s final out throwing to second, not home, picking off Matthew Cottany, who had walked earlier in the fifth and final inning.
Voitik faced the minimum 15 batters in his five-inning complete game in the nightcap. Only two runners reached against Voitik — one on a first-inning error, and another on a fifth-inning walk.
“I had (the no-hitter) in my mind,” said Voitk, who struck out the side in the last inning. “I was just concentrating on throwing strikes.”
Often plagued by fielding errors, the Plainsmen rarely booted the ball Tuesday, finishing with one error in each game, and Enid’s 12 runs in each win set a season high. Chavez and Voitik are both 1-0 after Tuesday, and U.S. Grant’s Arroyo and Kotcha Scott took the losses.
The Plainsmen host the Gladys Winters Tournament from Thursday to Saturday, starting at 4 p.m. Thursday against No. 9 Stillwater, followed by an 8 p.m. game against No. 5 Tulsa Union, which swept Enid in a doubleheader on March 15.
“You look at the field in the Gladys Winters Tournament — (No. 3) Yukon’s a top-10 team, Stillwater’s a top-10 team, Tulsa Union, obviously, and PC-North’s good,” Mayberry said. “We’ll have to be ready to play every game in that tournament.”