PLAQUEMINE — University High’s Will Keller wasn’t supposed to pitch in the Cubs’ game against Plaquemine on Saturday, but he was glad he did.
Keller threw his first career no-hitter in U-High’s 13-0 shuout of Plaquemine, despite only discovering he would replace original starter Matt LaSalle barely a half hour before game time.
LaSalle was pulled from the lineup because of a broken nose he suffered in practice Friday.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know I had (a no-hitter),” Keller said. “It didn’t really feel like I had my best stuff today, but my guys just kept making plays behind me.”
It took Keller (6-0) a few batters to settle into his impromptu role, hitting the leadoff man, walking the second and committing a balk during the third, but he composed himself to retire the next 15 consecutive batters as the Cubs (14-6) defeated the Green Devils (12-4) in five innings via the 10-run rule.
But Keller’s surprise performance was almost cut short in the third inning when U-High coaches were about to pull him in favor of testing a few other arms in the bullpen. It wasn’t until they realized what Keller had going that they opted to let him finish.
Keller closed with six strikeouts — four were swinging — on just 58 total pitches.
“I just wasn’t fully into the game yet,” Keller said of his first-inning struggles. “I maybe should have warmed up a little more. … It took me about an inning to get there.”
Offensively, U-High coach Justin Morgan said Saturday’s game was the most complete and consistent the Cubs have played this season — something he’s seen as a problem in his first year at U-High.
Every U-High starter reached base safely and only two failed to record a hit, with the top of the lineup doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. Center fielder Seth Daugherty, Keller and shortstop Jake Wharton combined for five hits, five runs and two RBIs.
“We didn’t get satisfied or complacent when we went up 4-0 (in the first inning),” Morgan said. “Our guys played with a lot of consistency at the plate and took what the game gave us.”
Plaquemine’s pitchers never got a solid grip, particularly starter Devin Washington (5-2), who gave up seven hits and nine runs.
Washington was pulled in favor of sophomore Brandon Klack after reaching 80 pitches through three innings.
Klack finished, allowing five hits and four runs.
Another problem for the Green Devils was the four errors, with three directly correlated to runs.
“We’re not a bad baseball team,” Plaquemine coach Scott Allen said. “We’ve made those plays before. We’ve beat good teams to become 12-3. It’s just baseball.”