Jared Janczak did not even know.
“Hey, Janczak, did you have a no-hitter?” Belton coach Eddie Cornblum asked. The Belton senior pitcher looked up from packing his bag, put his glove down and shrugged.
Ryne Neimi slapped him on the back, “Yeah, man, you had it.”
Janczak was not dominant — as he was in a 17-strikeout, one-hit performance against Harker Heights to start the district season — but he got the job done by relying on his defense, in a five-inning, 11-0 victory over Shoemaker on Friday. Janczak walked three and struck out five in the shutout win that keeps the Tigers (17-10, 12-1) tied atop the District 8-5A standings with Waco Midway.
“I didn’t know until I came back in the dugout,” Janczak said. “I was surprised and pretty pumped. ... We work hard on defense and I knew they could field anything hit behind me. I could throw my pitches and let them work.”
The loss put Shoemaker (15-10, 7-6) in the same place it was entering the game, with a one-game lead for the third playoff spot in 8-5A, but also only a game out of missing the playoffs entirely. The Grey Wolves have a one-game lead over Ellison, which they play next Friday, and Harker Heights. Both the Knights and Eagles are 6-7 in district play.
“We just have to change our mindset to that team that wanted to win instead of hoping to win,” Shoemaker coach Harry Zambrana said. “I don’t know if we just got satisfied with winning a little bit, but it is not good enough. You hate getting no-hit and shutout, but hopefully it will make us realize again that we have to work to win.
“Ellison is going to be tough, and it is must-win for both of us. It is going to be a fight.”
Belton did everything but pound out hits in the first inning.
The Tigers had five straight singles — without once driving the ball out of the infield. Three bounced on the dirt before skirting to the outfield grass, and two never made it outside the diamond. Still, Belton made the most of each connection, getting the first seven batters on base and pushing across five runs before Shoemaker registered an out. Walker Winders and Chase Cryer both had RBI singles with the bases loaded and then Chase Sortor drew a bases loaded walk and Joe Pare was hit by a pitch.
Cryer later scored on an RBI groundout by Neimi, but Pare was thrown out at the plate after Cameron Cooper, who was 2 for 2 in the inning, singled.
Belton got its first extra-base hit in the second inning. After Janczak walked and Winders singled, Sorter hit a sliced a rope down the third-base line, doubling and scoring both runners. The double gave Belton a 7-0 lead.
“It is not trying to do too much at the plate and taking what is given to you,” Cornblum said. “That kid, (Roberto) Delgado is a good kid. I like his stuff. But we work counts deep and are able to take two-strike counts the other way. And I think we had good approach at the plate. We hit the ball on the ground and made things happen early.”
Delgado settled down in the third and fourth innings, but Belton struck again in the fifth. Cryer led-off with a single and Sortor followed with a double. Pare walked to load he bases and the Grey Wolves’ lone error allowed Belton to score. Mark Herrington added an RBI single, Cooper grounded out, but drove in a run and Janczak shorted his own night by driving in the 11th and final Belton run.
“We work pitch counts and if we don’t get them early, we are going to get them later,” Cornblum said. “We believe that and so far these guys understand that it does not matter how you get on.”
Contact Nick Talbot at email@example.com or (254) 501-7569