CARY, N.C.—Even though he didn't get a chance to see if he could complete the feat, it's safe to say Venice High's Rylee Buckmaster will take a no-hit outing every time out.
Buckmaster spun four-plus innings without allowing a hit in a 4-1 win over Orange Lutheran High in his team's first game of the second day of the National High School Invitational, held at USA Baseball's National Training Complex.
"It was nice. Buckmaster, Rylee Buckmaster is a sophomore. Wanted to give him some opportunities. He's got a bright future ahead," Venice head coach Craig Faulkner said. "He came out and battled as a sophomore. It's a pretty big stage for a young guy like that, but he's got a good mentality. He threw hard, he threw strikes. He just wore out pretty quick."
He struck out only one during his time on the mound, but he used a low 80s fastball and a curveball to coax six grounders from Orange Lutheran hitters before yielding to lefty Ryan Ahern in the bottom of the fifth.
When he came to get Buckmaster, Faulkner said, there was no protest, despite what he was leaving behind.
"We knew he had a no-hitter," Faulkner explained, "but we felt like he was getting tired. We don't want to hurt him. We didn't want to take him out, but when he walked the leadoff hitter, we felt like he needed to come out."
Orange Lutheran got its only hit on Bobby Fulkerson's single up the middle off of Ahern to lead off the sixth.
After matching Buckmaster pitch for pitch in through the first three innings, Orange Lutheran's Cole Spear—also a sophomore—cracked in the fourth. With two runners on, he surrendered two runs on a bloop single to Ryan Miller. An errant pickoff throw moved Miller to third, where he was cashed in shortly thereafter on Trevor Holloway's RBI knock to left.
Spear settled back down in the fifth, working around a single to set Venice down scoreless, but the damage was done.
Rhett Dinka's double-play grounder in the sixth brought home Venice's fourth run.
Orange Lutheran got on the board in the sixth when Venice reliever Mike Rivera slipped and fell during his delivery, thus balking home a runner from third. Rivera escaped further damage with an inning-ending strikeout of Fulkerson with runners on first and second.
After getting roughed up on Wednesday, the win served as a big pick-me-up for Venice before its second game of the afternoon, which pitted them against Parkview and stud lefthander Mac Marshall.
"My guys bounced back from a tough game yesterday, giving up six runs in one inning," Faulkner said. "We just fell apart there for one inning, and it's not like Venice High School to do that. But they bounced back today, a lot of character today and it's great to see that."