Bostrand, Flores combine for no-hitter in Marmion's win over St. Charles North
Ethan Flores pounded his glove and hand together repeatedly while walking off the mound.
Flores, the Marmion sophomore, wasn't even planning on pitching. He was just ready if his number was called.
That turned out to be a highly important decision, as Flores and starter Zach Bostrand combined for a no-hitter to cap off the Cadets' 2-0 victory over St. Charles North on Tuesday.
"All my teammates, they keep me going," Flores said. "They support me. I work all the time. I'm always doing something for baseball. Always."
Whether he catches, plays third base or has to pitch, Flores "has a great mentality" that Marmion first-year head coach Aaron Nieckula has observed.
"He's a warrior; he's a lion out there," Nieckula said. "We talk about that with players quite often: Be a warrior. Be a lion. And, it's all about opportunity and you get a chance to either pitch or play, take advantage of the opportunity and then you get more opportunities. He did a great job coming out of the bullpen."
Flores' work was set up beautifully by Bostrand, who struck out four and limited the North Stars (0-1) to no hits in four complete innings. Flores, meanwhile, struck out four and surrendered one walk and one hit-by-pitch over three innings of work.
In the fourth, Bostrand walked Parker Reinke to lead off the inning. Reinke eventually stole second and advanced to third on a groundout by Michael Buono. Bostrand, however, forced consecutive groundouts to keep North off the scoreboard.
"I think it was outstanding. I thought Zach came out -- first of all -- to start the season out 2-0 [as a team] is great; but I think more importantly, we started the season playing well," Nieckula said. "It's contagious. I think the kids have done a really great job in preparation prior to games, both in practice and pregame."
For Bostrand, his focus is simply competing.
"My biggest thing is going out there and competing every pitch," he said. "Giving it my all, especially with [the cold] conditions going on. Go out there, trust my defense and give those guys a chance back there; it's a big piece of it. Trusting my guys. Trusting my catcher [Jude Ruddy]. He did a great job all game."
Marmion (2-0) broke the stalemate in the sixth inning off North Stars relief pitcher Josh Caccia. Jackson Sherman led off with a hit-by-pitch before advancing to second on a groundout from Bostrand. After Flores battled for a walk, Tyler Sowers struck out to set the stage with two outs.
With Luke O'Connor at the plate mid-at-bat, Caccia was tagged for a balk to advance the runners to second and third. A few pitches later, O'Connor poked a low-hanging liner into shallow right field for a two-run single.
Flores followed up on the mound with two strikeouts, and Sowers had a diving catch in right field in the bottom half of the sixth.
"Ethan was up with us last year. He was a huge component of that [season], especially as a freshman," Bostrand said. "He's grown a whole lot since then. You just saw him compete in his first varsity [relief] appearance."
In the seventh, Flores hit Colin Ryder to lead off, but Ruddy cut down courtesy runner Jaden Harmon on a steal attempt to second base before Will Vaske struck out. North Stars senior Anthony Estrada, who pitched four shutout innings himself, struck out to end the game.
"We're just excited to get the opportunity to play today," North Stars coach Todd Genke said. "It was a good game. We obviously need to work on some of our execution, especially offensively. We had some chances there to get the lead [in the fourth]. We always try to score first and that's one of our goals. We just weren't able to put the ball in play enough to be able to do that.
"It's the first game. First time actually on the field. I thought we pitched the ball really well. They scored on a hit-by-pitch, a walk and a balk. We just can't do that in a tight game. So, we'll learn from it. we've got a pretty young team and I think it's just a matter of coming through in some clutch situations."