Elijah Wellman may have suffered one of the worst no-decisions in baseball history, but it didn't seem to bother the junior right-hander. Because the long, long evening proved enjoyable for him and his Spring Valley teammates.
Caleb Frye raced home with the winning run on a throwing error in the top of the 13th inning Wednesday, giving the Timberwolves a 2-1 marathon victory over host Nitro at Brandon Matthew Sneed Field.
The win helped erase some of the disappointment for Wellman, who was nothing short of remarkable against the Wildcats (10-3), the No. 7 team in the Gazette's Class AAA state ratings and an elite program that has reached the state tournament five straight years, winning titles in 2008 and 2010.
Wellman started and pitched 10 innings, allowing no hits and striking out 22. The bullpen for the Wolves (6-9) nearly completed the no-hitter, but Nitro's Korey Dunbar singled with two out in the bottom of the 13th. One batter later, the game was over.
"I was on tonight,'' said Wellman, whose fastball has been clocked at 91 miles an hour in a game earlier this season. "We played hard, had a good game today and everybody played as a team.''
Even though Wellman didn't figure in the decision in the 4-hour, 1-minute game - the win went to Josh Steele, the second of three relievers - his effort was impressive nonetheless.
"Their guys did a good job - that's about the best you can say,'' said Nitro coach Steve Pritchard. "They've got two pitchers [Wellman and Billy Sager] that can get them to the state tournament. Those two guys are a good 1-2 punch. They're the two best pitchers we've seen this year.''
Spring Valley's pitching staff finished the game with 27 strikeouts and allowed no earned runs.
Nitro scored without the benefit of a hit in the fourth when Ryan McDonough walked, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.
It stayed that way until Spring Valley tied it in the top of the sixth against Nitro starter Kip Brewer, a freshman left-hander. Hunter Waugh beat out a chopper in front of the plate and Sager and Wellman were walked, loading the bases with none out.
Dunbar, the Wildcats' all-state catcher, then took over on the mound. He struck out Alex Combs, but Michael Hardin lofted a fly ball to short left field. Tyler Barton's throw home was late to catch Waugh, but Sager was thrown out at third to end the uprising.