If the Muenster Hornets baseball team had designs on winning district, it was going to have to go through Lindsay to get there.
On the mound for the Hornets was senior pitcher Jonathan Wheeler and they couldn’t have asked for a better performance from him.
Wheeler struck out 12 Knights en route to a 7-1 no-hitter performance at Lindsay on Tuesday, April 6.
Using all three of his pitches – the fastball, curveball and change-up – Wheeler kept the Lindsay hitters off balance all night long.
“It was a great win,” Wheeler said. “We put the ball in play and we hit well. We played good baseball and that’s Muenster baseball for you. I pitched a really good game, but without the guys behind me, I wouldn’t have pitched as well as I did. I hold runners really well I feel like and I’ve played these guys four years straight on varsity. I’ve got a lot of experience.
“It’s just a game. You can’t think. You just have to play and that’s what we did.”
The win moved the Hornets to 17-6 on the season and 5-0 in district play.
Muenster scored three runs in the top of the first inning to give Wheeler some breathing room, which he said helped relax him throughout the game.
“It was really nice,” Wheeler said. “I had a tough inning where I walked four and they got one run, but besides that inning, we did really well. We had momentum the whole game.”
Head coach Josh Wheeler, Jonathan’s dad, said the entire team played really well.
“I thought we were up for the game and we kind of took control by hitting their ace Colton Popp,” Josh Wheeler said. “The lead takes the pressure off the pitcher and it helps your lineup get confidence. We struck out a little bit too much, but we had a lot of barreled balls that were hit really hard.”
As for how Jonathan Wheeler played, Josh Wheeler said there was still room for improvement. If he could have eliminated the walks in the second inning, it could have been near perfection.
“He pitched really well,” Wheeler said. “We have that one inning where we kind of lapse, so we’ve got to do a better job throughout the game. He was in the zone the other six innings. He can throw strikes with all three of his pitches. He held runners really well. He pitched a great game.”
After Lindsay cut the lead to 3-1 in the second, Muenster tacked on another run in the fourth inning to make it 4-1.
Then, in the top of the seventh, Cody Hill belted a two-run triple to right field and scored off a passed ball to extend the Hornets’ lead to 7-1.
Josh Wheeler knew how big of a hit it was for the team.
“Cody has a lot of power and sometimes he thinks too much at the plate, but power-wise, he’s probably the strongest guy on our team.”
Muenster will host Lindsay on Friday, April 9, in the second tilt with Lindsay. As great as the win was for the Hornets, it won’t mean as much if they don’t take care of business Friday.
“It means a lot, but we still have to win Friday at home,” Wheeler said. “That’s a big game. The wind is probably going to be blowing out and it’s probably going to be a slugfest. Colton Deckard is going to be really good on the mound and hopefully we come out with a win. Lindsay is still a really good ball club. They can beat us.”
Reach Patrick Hayslip at firstname.lastname@example.org