Champlin throws WNC's first no-hitter

It had been so long since Kramer Champlin was the starting pitcher for a game that he forgot his routine. He proved Friday he didn't need the rituals.

In his first start of the season, the regular closer threw Western Nevada's first no-hitter in the program's four-year history in a 1-0 victory over Southern Idaho.

"I kind of asked (the coaching staff) what to do and tried to do what they told me to," Champlin said. "Usually when I throw in the pen, I throw 10 balls and I'm OK to go out there. So I tried to make it like a normal day and warmed up with everybody and just go do my own thing.

"I've gotten so used to the pen so it was kind of weird. The whole routine was off, I was getting nervous. I didn't have time to get nervous (out of the bullpen)."

The freshman had pitched 29.1 innings, all coming out of the bullpen, prior to making the start after Jordan Lewis came up with arm stiffness earlier in the week and was scratched. WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said Champlin was the first guy he thought of to replace his ace. He struck out six, walked three and hit one batter.

"Champlin came to us as a starting pitcher," he said. "Obviously, most guys do and he's wanted to start, but he's really been unselfish and he's been our best pitcher, but we've left him in the bullpen. You need a guy like that in your bullpen and this week Lewis came up sore and couldn't pitch and I knew these guys had a really good number one, so we decided to counter with our best guy and Champlin made me look smart."

The 14th-ranked Wildcats won the second game of the day 9-1 in seven innings and moved to 25-5 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference and 31-11. The wins were an attempt to rebound from two losses to Southern Nevada last week and remain in first place in the conference two games up on the Coyotes.

WNC will play Southern Idaho (16-14, 23-19), the SWAC's third place team, again at noon today in a doubleheader.

Champlin (6-1) was oblivious to being the first Wildcat to throw a no-hitter, but was happy his dad, Greg who drove 13 hours from Olympia, Wash., on Thursday, got to see the game.

"Am I?," Champlin asked about being the first to throw a no-hitter. "With all the great pitching we've had in the past, I figured that would happen...

"(My dad) was going to come, but I told him I was going to start so he just hopped in the car and decided to come down."

Champlin was nearly matched by the Golden Eagles' Sam Armstrong, who allowed just three hits in seven innings. But WNC catcher Jerome Pena came up with the lone run on a solo-homer in the fifth inning. The switch-hitter said that despite knocking it from the left side of the plate, his power side is his right.

"You've got to give it up to Champlin in that game," Pena said. "He pitched real good, hit his spots, threw his curveball where it needed to be, threw his changeup where it needed to be. But that hit, I got lucky. I hit my pitch, that's how it goes."

It was also a relief for Pena, who has been dealing with a sports hernia injury almost all season. He sat earlier in the week and returned to practice Thursday, where he still looked like the injury was bothering him.

The no-hitter was kept alive by several stellar defensive plays. Ryan Lay hit a shallow fly to center field in the third that hung up in the air just long enough for Mike Long to track it down about three feet from the ground on a full-stride run.

In the fourth, shortstop Daniel Zylstra dove on blooper that barely reached the brown Field Turf that makes up the base paths. He caught the ball in the air and was able to get up in time to throw out Tyler Chism trying to get back to first.

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