Juneau-Douglas senior pitcher Lance Ibesate threw a piece of Crimson Bears history on Tuesday night in a 13-0 mercy-rule win over the Thunder Mountain Falcons at Adair Kennedy Field.
Ibesate threw 72 pitches in five innings and allowed no runs and not hits while striking out eight batters and walking two, recording only the third Crimson Bears’ no-hitter. Zack Mixson recorded a no-no against Prince of Wales in 2005 and Clae Baker gave up just one walk in the 2007 state tournament semi-final against North Pole.
“It feels pretty good,” Ibesate said. “It was actually in the back of my mind during the game. I wanted the batters to swing at bad pitches and chase some balls in the dirt. I knew I could trust my defense to back me up.”
Ibesate calls his own pitches, but he listens to his catcher’s opinions.
“The fastball in baseball is the best pitch,” Ibesate said. “The fastball is probably my best pitch too. Every time we step on that field it is a whole different game with the Falcons. It is a game of pride; it is more than just a baseball game. It is a pretty big deal and I respect the Falcons a lot.”
Crimson Bears catcher Ryan Kelly can call off a pitch but Ibesate has the final say.
“I didn’t realize it until we were one out away,” Kelly said. “I didn’t remember them getting a hit and I had that thought in the back of my mind. They were behind on his fastball all night so I wanted him to keep doing what he was doing. They hadn’t hit him before so we didn’t need to change anything. It is pretty special. It has only happened a couple times so it is pretty special to be able to experience that.”
Mixon, Dylan and Clae Baker, Joe Kohan, Sean Bavard and current TMHS head coach Matt Greely have all been top throwers on the mound.
“He threw the ball very well,” Greely said. “When a pitcher is throwing good you have to get to him early or your chances may dry up.”
The Falcons had a chance to get at Ibesate in the first inning. RJ Markovich drew a walk, Gus Swanton reached on an error and Patrick Millay was hit by a pitch to load the bases. The Falcons couldn’t capitalize however as Ibesate forced a pop up and struck out the final batter. Ibesate retired the side in the second, striking out two. He retired the sides in the third and fourth innings, striking out two, and was averaging 14 pitches an inning.
With one out remaining Ibesate was trying to concentrate.
“Just one more Lance,” Ibesate said. “I was telling myself I could do it, just get one more out.”
Junior centerfielder Tod Baseden knew a no-hitter was in the works. In the fifth inning Ibesate strikes out the first two batters. The Falcons get a man on with an error. The next batter connects on a solid swing and the ball carries high and deep towards the center track.
“Just catch the ball,” Baseden said. “That was what I was thinking. I was just trying to get a read off the hit. I might have been a little nervous, I just wanted to catch that last out.”
Meanwhile the Crimson Bears brought their “big-boy” bats and totaled 16 hits on 30 at bats. In the first inning Baseden singled, Kyle Gould tripled him in; Josh Magnuson singled scoring Gould; Tanner Petrie was hit and Kelly, Christian Gould and Brenden Winter all singled. They tacked on an unearned run in the second.
In the fourth Baseden doubled, Ibesate walked and Gould drove in a run. Magnuson singled and Kelly drove in Gould. In the fifth the Crimson Bears’ tacked on five more runs.
For the game Kelly went 3-4 with 3 RBIs and scored three runs, Kyle Gould was 3-4 with 2 RBIs and scored three runs, Baseden 2-3 and scored two, Magnuson 2-4 with 2 RBIs, Jeffrey Pusich 1-1 with 2 RBIs, and Petrie, Winters C. Gould and Kellen Johansen notched hits.
“To be honest I didn’t know it was a no hitter,” JDHS coach Shelden Winters said. “We were so focused on the game and what was going on. Some of the kids knew, but the superstition is you don’t mention a no-hitter if one is going on. It was fun to watch and I have been coaching Lance since he was 10-years old so it was really neat for him.”
A pitcher has to have some defense behind him too and the Crimson Bears were solid in the field.
“He pitched really well,” Winters said. “He either struck them out or forced them into pop ups or ground ball situations. He is just like he is on the basketball court, he is a senior and a leader, he’s a gamer and when the going is tough you know he is going to bear down and get the job done.”
Senior Josh Magnuson also had a no hitter going into the seventh and final inning of a game in Sitka last weekend. A fluke hit ended that outing. On the JDHS baseball website the team has stated that Ibesate’s game was for Magnuson.
“I told the team we just need to maintain our focus,” Ibesate said. “We need to go into every game knowing that we can win and improve and learn every single time we go on the field.”