By Jesse Phelps
It seemed like an ordinary day
and it almost seemed like an ordinary game at Thacher School
on Friday afternoon, except for one thing: none of the hitters
from Kilpatrick could reach base.
One by one they came to the plate and one by one Thacher hurler
Charlie Munzig set them down until, at the end of it all, those
in the Thacher dugout could only look at the day one way. Perfect.
Well, pretty much.
Munzig, a senior, faced the minimum 21 batters over seven innings
for his first no-hitter. In their 3-0 victory, the Toads had
some trouble solving the tough pitching of Kilpatrick's Michael
Bravo, Michael Lajeunesse and Omar Santana.
The Kilpatrick trio notched nine
strikeouts on the afternoon to Munzig's two while Munzig was
content to baffle the Kilpatrick lineup with well-located fastballs
and a steady diet of looping curveballs, forcing a variety of
softly hit grounders and flies.
Behind him, the defense played nearly flawlessly. The only error
came in the first inning when, after Santana struck out, Toad
Cameron Robertson misplayed a ball hit by Kilpatrick shortstop
Rene Gonzales in left field. It flew over his head, allowing
Gonzales to reach second base. But Robertson atoned on the following
Lajeunesse, batting third, blooped a soft shot over the head
of shortstop Dillon Valadez. Robertson, playing back, ran in
and launched himself. Somehow, he came up with a sliding grab
and flipped the ball to the infield, where Gonzales, running
all the way on the play, was doubled off second base.
He was the last base runner Kilpatrick would have.
"Charlie's curveball was working today and it kept them
off balance," said Thacher coach Rich Mazzola after the
Bravo, starting on the mound for Kilpatrick (3-5), also looked
excellent for three innings. Facing a team averaging 13 runs
per game in its first three games of the year, he struck out
the first five Toad hitters to face him and retired the first
eight in order before suffering minor control issues in the third.
Toad nine-hole hitter Lee Shurtleff and leadoff man Gabe Yette
drew consecutive two-out walks before second baseman Owili Eison
struck out to end the inning.
But the Toads were patiently figuring Bravo out.
Thacher (4-0) scored its three runs on only four hits. Three
of those hits and all of the runs came in the fourth inning.
Munzing helped his own cause with a full-count single to start
the inning after an eight-pitch at-bat and stole second base.
Cleanup hitter Graham Douds moved Munzig to third on a slow grounder.
Catcher Brenton Sullivan then knocked a clean single up the middle
for what turned out to be the game-winning RBI.
But the Toads weren't done. After Sullivan stole second, Mustang
right fielder Matthew Donovan couldn't handle a ball off the
bat of Robertson, who reached base on an error.
Valadez worked the count full, fouled off three pitches and reached
on a walk, loading the bases for Toad first baseman Richard Smith.
On the second pitch from Bravo, Smith laced a shot up the middle
for a two-run single, the final runs of the game.
Afterward, Munzig expressed appreciation for Sullivan's efforts
behind the plate. "He's just calling good pitches and I'm
just throwing whatever he calls. It's pretty fun to win it here
on my home field," he said.
"We get out there and he gets real focused," Sullivan
said of Munzig. "Once he gets focused, we just go to work."
Still, as Mazzola told his team in his post-game huddle, good
pitching is only as good as the defense behind it. Munzig induced
10 fly-ball outs and eight ground ball outs, all but the one
handled neatly by a team feeling what Mazzola called "no-hitter
The players responded positively as he implored them to give
him that focus for the rest of the season. "In a no-hitter,
you want the ball hit to you because you're the one who wants
to make the play on defense," he said. "And that's
the kind of defense I need and that's the kind of attitude I
In the top of the seventh, with two outs separating Munzig from
his moment, that defense came up big. Gonzales stepped to the
plate again with one more chance to play spoiler. For a second
time he made excellent contact, this time driving the ball deep
into the gap in right center.
Yette and Shurtleff, both sprinting,
converged from center and right, respectively. As the ball began
to slice just short of the wall, Shurtleff stretched for a running
grab to preserve the special moment.
Two grounders later, Munzig found himself awash in a crowd of
excited teammates. He'd just recorded the first no-hitter of
his high school career, a mere technicality away from a perfect
No runs, no hits, no walks: close enough to perfection on what
started as a pretty ordinary day at Thacher School.
The Ojai Valley News
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MUNZIG after pitching his first-ever no-hitter against Kilpatrick.