Waynesburg High School senior pitcher Aaron Hill stood on the mound at Consol Energy Park and shook off the chills that came from the 40-degree weather at first pitch.
Wearing several layers under his uniform, Hill spent his time between innings huddled next to a space heater in the Raiders’ dugout. The heat had a ripple effect on Hill’s play on the mound.
The 6-2 right-hander pitched a complete game shutout and struck out eight to lead the Raiders to a 3-0 non-section win over Wash High in the first of three games during the Consol Energy Classic.
“That heater in the dugout helped,” Hill said. “I couldn’t believe how cold it was, but after the first two innings where I set guys down, that helps set the pace.”
It also helped that his teammates spotted him a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Freshman center fielder Hunter Robinson started the game with a single and scored on a throwing error after stealing second base.
With a 1-0 lead, Hill took care of the rest. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when the Prexies (2-3) got their first three hits of the game.
“The biggest thing was (Hill) putting up a zero,” Waynesburg head coach Kevin Pincavich said. “Other than him being cold out there, he kept going low and away. He’s a senior who’s been out there before.”
Using a strong changeup, Hill painted the outside of the strike zone, freezing Wash High’s players while consistently getting ahead in the count. As the game went on, Hill noticed the home plate umpire’s strike zone was wider.
Hill took advantage.
“I love going low and away,” Hill said. “He kept calling strikes on the outside of the plate, so I kept throwing the pitch there.”
The frigid temperatures had an effect on both team’s bats, but the Raiders (2-2) broke out in the fifth inning. After the first inning, Wash High starter Jonathan Spina and reliever Lincoln Key combined to retire 10 straight batters until Waynesburg catcher Braden Boosel reached on a walk in the top of the fifth. Robinson followed with a single to drive in a run and senior third baseman Dylan Rhodes followed with a single up the middle for a 3-0 lead.
When the season began, Pincavich had no reservations with having Robinson as his leadoff hitter. The move paid off against the Prexies.
“He’s a guy who runs well and knows the game,” Pincavich said. “He has as much power as anyone on this team and that’s why we put him in the leadoff spot. Why put him in the No. 9 spot when he can work great as our leadoff guy?”
Wash High broke up Hill’s no-hit bid in the bottom of the fifth. Kurt Atkins delivered the Prexies’ first hit, with one out, but he was picked off. It became a costly play when Chris Gouin followed with a single and Jordan West hit a double. Gouin was held at third base and Jesse Spara grounded out to end the inning.
“When you make errors right away, on a day like this, it’s going to be a low-scoring game,” Wash High head coach Rocky Plassio said. “It puts you behind the 8-ball right away and we couldn’t get hits. We got guys on, but couldn’t take advantage.”