PASADENA — Coaches don't often choose to pull their starter in the middle of a no-hitter, but Friday was far from the average no-hitter.
Pasadena High baseball Coach Mike Parisi took a trip out to the mound in the top of the seventh inning in a Pacific League game against Hoover with the intention of pulling his starter, Andrew Phillips, who'd just walked the tying run on base with one out.
"I don't think I've ever wanted to take someone out in a no-hitter," Parisi said. "I wanted to go pull him out and he said he wanted to finish the game."
Parisi stuck with his starter and he didn't regret the decision, as Phillips ended the game with a grounder and a strikeout to preserve the no-hitter and a 3-1 Pasadena league win over the visiting Tornadoes.
Phillips was dominant — with nine strikeouts — and wild in stretches — with six walks, including four straight in the top of the fourth to give the Tornadoes (3-8-1, 1-2 in league) their only run.
"It was nice [getting a no-hitter] for the first time ever, I don't care what team it is," Phillips said. "I struggled a couple times but I just had to keep coming back."
The Bulldogs senior was able to bounce back in the fourth, as he ended the one-out, bases-loaded threat — with Pasadena (4-5, 1-2) clinging to a 2-1 lead — by striking out the next two batters looking with back-door curveballs.
"The game came down to us not being able to produce at the dish," said Hoover Coach Joe Cotti, whose team was held without a hit for the second game this season. "We have to be able to put the ball in play a little better."
It spoiled a fine outing from Tornadoes pitcher Orlando Marin, who scattered five hits, four walks and gave up two earned runs in the complete game.
"Orlando pitched awesome and nine times out of 10 you pitch that well you come home with a 'W,'" said Cotti of Marin, who nearly threw 130 pitches in the loss. "I was ready to take him out, but he said he felt great and he kept going, hitting his spots and battled all the way through.
"He did an awesome job, I have to take my hat off to him, it was fantastic. "
Pasadena took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning as Brian Blackburn hit a solo home run in his first varsity at-bat after getting called up, but not playing, from the junior-varsity squad Wednesday.
"[Marin] tried to throw me inside and I crushed it. He tried to jam me and I turned on it," said Blackburn, who was the only player with multiple hits in the game as he went two for three with a double. "I saw it coming out of his hand so I threw the knob at the ball and it was over."
Needless to say, Parisi was impressed.
"He comes up and does this, it's going to make it hard for me to put him back there [in JV]," Parisi said. "It looks like he'll be here to stay for awhile if he keeps playing like that."
Calvin Christiansen gave Pasadena 2-0 edge four batters later with a rolling single up the middle that scored Sergio Rey, who reached on a walk and moved to second on a hit by pitch.
Brandon Cox loaded the bases for the Bulldogs when he worked a full-count walk, but Marin avoided the big inning as he struck out the next batter.
Pasadena left the bases loaded again in the fourth after getting its first three batters on base.
It looked like Cox blew the game open two batters later when he crushed a ball to deep center with one out, but Hoover center fielder Michael Zalin made a great running catch over his shoulder just before the fence and fired the ball back into the infield.
Pasadena inexplicably didn't have anyone tagging up and a hard liner snagged by Hoover shortstop Kevin Mendoza ended the inning.
"It's our immaturity, we're such a young, inexperienced team we make some mistakes like that," Parisi said.
Marin looked to send his team into the seventh inning down one, 2-1, but two errors and a bunt single that came with two outs gave Pasadena another run.
"It was a big insurance run, we needed that run," Phillips said. "It helped on the mound because it gave me a lot more confidence."