With two outs in the seventh, Ryan Kuchar faced down Steve Ryan, one of Rockport’s best hitters, with a chance to etch his name into Pentucket’s record books.
Pentucket’s senior ace had yet to give up a hit through the game’s first 6 2/3 innings, and by the time Rockport was down to its last out in Thursday’s afternoon matchup, the Sachems held a 7-0 lead, essentially assuring them of the victory.
But the victory would have felt hollow if Kuchar lost his no-hit bid on the last out, and for an instant, it looked as if that was going to happen. Ryan ripped a Kuchar fastball into the gap towards second base, but second baseman Kiernan Haley stopped it from bouncing into the outfield with a full extension diving grab.
Haley would then proceed to bobble the ball and throw it over the first baseman’s head, but the play went down as an error, not a hit, so when Kuchar struck the next batter out to end the game, he did so with the no-hitter still intact.
“It was an awesome feeling, best feeling as a pitcher,” Kuchar said yesterday of his no-hitter. “If it wasn’t for Kieran I wouldn’t have done it.”
Kuchar finished the afternoon with a flawless complete game performance. In 7 innings, he allowed no hits and no walks while striking out 14. The only batters to reach all game did so by virtue of defensive errors.
Thursday’s game was actually Kuchar’s second career no-hitter, with the first coming two summers ago while playing for the Newburyport Junior Legion team, but Kuchar said he’d always wanted to throw one in a Pentucket uniform and was thrilled when it worked out.
The no-hitter is the crowning jewel on what has been an outstanding season for the senior ace. Kuchar’s ERA currently stands at 1.34 and he has 47 strikeouts and just 5 walks in 31.1 innings of work. His win-loss record is only 2-3, but that is more a product of the poor run support he got in his first few starts than anything else.