Through their first 10 games, the Northview Knights averaged 12 runs.
Coach Gary Witham appeared to be the only one thinking about pitching and defense.
All that changed Tuesday night.
J.J. Smerdel pitched a one-hit shutout while being supported by error-free defense in a 1-0 victory over the visiting Sullivan Golden Arrows.
The victory improved Northview to 11-1 on the year and 5-0 in the WIC going into tonight's 5 p.m. returned trip to Sullivam.
Smerdel (3-0) struck out nine, walked two and hit two Sullivan batters.
"Outstanding. I don't know what more I could have asked from him. He was almost dominating at times. He mixed his pitches well," Northview coach Gary Witham said.
Northview's senior righthander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
"I wasn't really thinking about [the no-hitter]. I was thinking about the win," Smerdel said.
And he was throwing harder in the late innings than at the start of the game. "It was cold and I finally started warming up. The adrenalin started flowing and it was getting down to the end [of the game]. It was time to step it up," Smerdel said.
Sullivan's Caleb Owings broke up the no-hitter in the sixth inning with an infield single off a curve ball. Smerdel hit two batters with curve balls in the first inning.
"I probably should have stuck with my fastball on that [pitch]," Smerdel said..
"My hats off to Northview and [Smerdel]. He pitched a heck of a game and had us guessing on some pitches," Sullivan coach Matt Sandefer said.
Sullivan's Ryan Drew limited the usually strong hitting Knights to just five singles -- three in the first inning. It's the second game in a row the Knights didn't hit well.
"We're better hitters than that," Witham said.
Northview took the lead in the bottom of the first inning when Jesse Johnson, Keaton Robertson and John Reberger led off with three straight singles. With the bases loaded and no outs, Northview was in position for a big inning.
Johnson scored the game's only run on Austin Bryan's sacrifice fly to centerfield. But Sullivan's Drew got the next batter on a fly ball and ended the Northview threat with an infield grounder.
Northview had runners in scoring position three times but couldn't put it on the scoreboard. In the third, Robertson singled and stole second, but was stranded by a fly ball and infield out.
In the fifth, with one out, Jared Lumsdon walked and pinch runner Nick Lancaster moved to second on Johnson's second hit of the night. Sullivan's Drew ended the threat with a fly ball and strikeout.
And in the sixth, the Knights attempted a squeeze play with one out, but the batter didn't get the bunt down and the runner was called out.
Twice Smerdel and the Knights stopped Sullivan scoring threats. In the first, Smerdel hit back-to-back batters with one out, putting runners on first and second. Smerdel retired the side on fly balls.
And in the sixth, with two out, Smerdel walked a batter and Owings followed with the infield single that broke up the no-hitter. Smerdel retired the side with a ground ball to shortstop.
"I'm very pleased with our defense. There was a lot of pressure on our defense," Northview's Witham said.
Drew and Bedwell; Smerdel and Robertson; W -- Smerdel (3-0). L -- Drew
(3-2). LOB -- S 5, N 5.
Next game: Northview (11-1, 5-0 in WIC) travels to Sullivan (6-8, 2-3
in WIC) on Wednesday for a 5 p.m. game.