LINCOLN – Junior Dan LeDuc crafted a no-hitter and senior outfielder Ian Rittebush drove in the game’s only run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday to give Lincoln Pius X a 1-0 win over Omaha Skutt at the Class B state baseball tournament.
“No one talked about it,” Pius coach Troy Charf said of LeDuc’s gem, which lifted the Thunderbolts into a winner’s bracket game against Norris at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Den Hartog Field. Pius has a 21-9 record and is seeded third behind No. 1 Norris.
It was a great comeback for LeDuc, who was pulled in the third inning during his last start.
“With me, it’s more about that I owe it to myself and teammates to be as perfect as I can be,” LeDuc said.
It was special to pitch a no-hitter at Haymarket Park, LeDuc said.
“It’s every kid’s dream to come out here and play,” he said.
Skutt will move to the loser’s bracket against Seward at 1 p.m. Even though he had surpassed 100 pitches Monday night, LeDuc would have gone out for another inning, Charf said.
“We were confident with him going back out,” Charf said.
LeDuc said he knew as the game progressed that he was closing in on a no-hitter, his first. “You know it, but you ignore it.”
The game was a colossal pitchers’ duel from the start.
Justin Lange, a senior left-hander for Skutt, had given up only one single going into the seventh inning. It was a remarkable performance following his teammate Matthew Warren’s no-hitter on Saturday.
Lange got the first two batters out in the seventh but then gave up a single to senior Chris Bodfield, who then went from first to third on a simple single to left by Jared Kolbusch. Bodfield saw the outfielder bobble the ball and streaked for third, where he was safe by inches.
That daring base-running set up the score from third when Rittebush singled up the middle.
“We give runners a lot of latitude,” said Charf, “and he went (to third) on his own. I would expect a senior to make a good read on that play.”
Rittebush came through in the clutch as he did the last time Pius and Skutt met. He singled to right field in that game to drive in two runs and propel the Thunderbolts to a 5-2 win.
“I said a little prayer in my head before I went to bat in that game,” Rittebush said. “I did the same thing tonight.”
Charf praised Rittebush, the hitter at the bottom of the Pius lineup, for both clutch hits.
“That is awesome for a kid in his senior year.”
Omaha Skutt ............ 000 000 0—0 0 2
Lincoln Pius ............ 000 000 1—1 3 1
W: LeDuc. L: Lange.