The right-handed O'Brien combined with left-handed reliever Ian Oxnevad to no-hit Marysville Pilchuck as the Thunderbirds defeated the Tomahawks 3-0 in a battle of the top teams in the Wesco 3A's two divisions. Shorewood -- with a Wesco best record of 15-2 league, 18-2 overall -- leads the South. Marysville Pilchuck (14-3 league, 16-4 overall) is atop the North.
O'Brien pitched the first five innings, walking five. a Oxnevad pitched the final two, walking two.
"We never go into a game looking to no-hit," said Shorewood head coach Wyatt Tonkin said, who earned his 250th high school victory. "We just want to play good defense and if they score we need to score one more and just bring all facets of our game. But we were kind of on tonight. We hit some spots and looked pretty good."
O'Brien got all the run support he needed in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff batter Cameron Sterne reached on an error and Kory Longaker followed with a single. Catcher Jake Bockelie drove them both in on the next at-bat with a double to center field.
The Thunderbirds picked up a third run in the bottom of the second inning when Bockelie added another RBI on a single that scored Spencer Jacobs.
"Pressure and small ball have kind of been our deal," Tonkin said. "And then Jake comes up big with a couple of men on."
Marysville Pilchuck starter Cody Anderson settled down after the first two innings and didn't allow a run the rest of the way. With O'Brien and Oxnevad on their game, it didn't matter.
"I think it is good for the team just to kind of boost their confidence a little bit going into the playoffs," Oxnevad said. "I think it is really good for us."
Like many no-hitters, it wasn't without some drama.
Marysville Pilchuck's Kyle Nobach came the closest to getting a hit in the top of the third inning when he delivered a hard shot to center field. Sterne made a diving catch to keep Nobach from extra bases and keep MP without a hit.
"It's pitching and defense," Tonkin said. "If we have a practice there is going to be some kind of defense in it. We try to instill in the guys pride in their defense. If we play great defense, with our pitchers we can stay in the game."
O'Brien continued to make quick work of the Tomahawks until the fifth inning when he got himself into a bit of trouble. After recording one out, O'Brien walked the bases loaded to give Marysville Pilchuck its best chance of scoring in the game. But O'Brien came back to get a strike out and a pop out to end the inning.
"That was huge," Tonkin said. "Confidence factor-wise for a pitcher to be able to battle out of a bases loaded situation like that it does wonders for your mental approach to the game and just being mentally tough as a pitcher.
With O'Brien's pitch count increasing fast, Tonkin decided to go to Oxnevad in the top of the sixth inning.
O'Brien threw "close to 40 pitches" in the fifth inning, Tonkin said. "His arm is more important than (a no-hitter). He's got a big future and a big upside. He was getting right on 100 pitches so I figured we'd get him out of there and keep him healthy.
Oxnevad also created some drama with the final batter of the game, Marysville's Bryce Minnick. Minnick kept extending his at-bat with foul balls and hit a laser down the left-field line that landed just foul before Oxnevad came back to strike him out and end the game.
"When he hit the ball I was a little scared it was going to drop in fair there," Oxnevad said. "That guy is a pretty good hitter and I just wanted to keep putting balls inside and at the end he finally stopped swinging."
After the game, the Thunderbirds were elated to have no-hit a team the caliber of Marysville PIlchuck.
"It's just great," O'Brien said. "It brings a lot of confidence for us to go into the playoffs."
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Meridian Park Fields
Marysville Pilchuck 000 000 0--0 0 2
Shorewood 210 000 0--3 8 0
Cody Anderson and Kasey Walker. Riley O'Brien, Ian Oxnevad (6) and Jake Bockelie. WP – O'Brien. LP – Anderson. 2B – Bockelie (S), Kory Longaker (S). Records – Marysville Pilchuck 14-3 league, 16-4 overall; Shorewood 15-2, 18-2.
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