Prep Baseball Report

No. 16 Champaign Central Blanks Peoria Notre Dame Behind Gordon's No-Hitter

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

CHAMPGAIGN, IL – Elbow tenderness had kept Tanner Gordon off the mound for much of No. 16 Champaign Central’s impressive season so far. With only 11 innings under his belt this season, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound junior right-hander has slowly been working his way back.

On Saturday against Peoria Notre Dame, with Big 12 Conference championship implications on the line, Gordon showed a glimpse of his potential when healthy, as he threw a five-inning no-hitter in leading Champaign Central to a 10-0 mercy-rule victory.

Gordon struck out three and walked two to keep the Maroons (29-4, 12-2) in a first-place tie with Normal West with one game remaining in conference. Gordon consistently filled up the strike zone with his 84-86 mph in the early innings, touching 89 once a pitch after he was denied a strikeout on a sharp 69-mph curveball that presumably buckled the umpire.

“I felt great out there,” Gordon said. “I didn’t even know I had a no-hitter. … I knew this was a big game, but didn’t have that in my mind because I knew my teammates would back me up.”

The Maroons played solid defense behind Gordon, particularly senior shortstop Nick Brunson, who had four putouts, including a slick diving play in the hole, popped up and fired to first to preserve the no-hitter in the fifth.

Central’s offense, which had struggled in its two-game sweep of crosstown rival Centennial last week, came to life in the first game of the doubleheader. The Maroons scored four runs in the second inning behind five hits. Gordon drove in the game’s first run on a double, and seniors Jon Foster and Connor Mapes also had run-scoring singles in the inning.

The Maroons added two runs in each the third, fourth and fifth innings to put a quick end to the Irish (19-10, 10-5). Junior Jacob Snider, a left-handed hitting Louisville recruit, went 2-for-3 with a double to right-center, a run-scoring single in the fifth, and a walk. Brunson finished 2-for-2 with a run and senior catcher Luke Beesley added two singles and a RBI.

Meanwhile, as the game progressed, Gordon began to throw his curveball with more confidence and effectiveness to keep the Irish’s bats quiet.

“We were careful with him for most of March and April,” said Central coach John Staab. “He certainly came up big today.”

In the second game – which is counted as a nonconference contest in the Big 12 – Notre Dame bounced back to beat the Maroons 3-1.  The Irish scored all three of their runs in the second inning. Junior shortstop Luke Shadid delivered the big blow with a two-run single. The Bradley recruit finished the game 3-for-4 in the second game.

Brendan Birdoes led off the second inning with a double and scored on Truman Ralph’s single. Ralph, a junior right-hander, pitched well in the first inning, notching two strikeouts, but had to leave the game in the second when Joe Aeilts lined a shot off his hip to lead off the inning. Junior right-hander Luc Jackson pitched the rest of the way to earn the victory.

Central’s lone run came on Mapes’ single that scored Alec Barger, who had doubled in the third inning.

More detailed scout notes will be added to the Illinois Scout Blog later.

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