Then in the top of the fifth, right fielder John Sirios was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and then stole second to get into scoring position with no outs. Michel responded by striking out the next three Pentucket batters to get out of the inning unscathed.
Pentucket had a number of great defensive plays to keep Hamilton-Wenham off the board too. Bobby Hallowell in particular had a great stretch where he threw out back-to-back Generals trying to steal second in the bottom of the third.
The Generals did pick up two more runs in the bottom of the sixth after senior captain Henry Eagar drove in Harring on a base hit, and then Harrison O’Brien came around a few batters later on a bases-loaded error to give the Generals a 3-0 lead.
Down three but with the heart of the order due up in the inning, Pentucket dispensed with traditional no-hitter etiquette and attempted to bunt to lead off the seventh inning. DJ Englke put down a perfect bunt and reached first after the third baseman fumbled the ball for an error.
“I didn’t even realize he had a no hitter going; honestly, we don’t give a crap about no hitters, we’re trying to get on base,” L’Italien said after the game. “DJ is a great bunter, he found a way to get on, and we felt like if we could get [Ryan] Kuchar on, Sirios could hit a home run.”
The plan ultimately didn’t work out, as Michel struck out Kuchar, Sirios and Dylan Wright in quick succession to end the game and punch his team’s ticket to the regional finals.
“It’s an accomplishment, but we expect Austen to be that good every day,” said Hamilton-Wenham coach Reggie Maidment of his pitcher’s performance. “Whether it’s a no hitter, that depends on the defense and getting good calls here and there, so the no-hitter part no, but we expect Austen to come out and dominate teams.”