Batters be-Ware: Saints starter flirts with no-no

Blake Ware looked up at the scoreboard about the fifth inning and saw a zero in the Pioneers’ hit column.

So he knew what was going on.

The White Oak, Texas native took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Friday, only losing the bid when Adrian’s Steve Rogers rolled a single to center with one out. It was the only hit he gave up, as he finished throwing eight shutout innings as the Saints won for the second-straight time, 4-1.

“With a no-hitter or something like that going on, you’ve just got to be able to enjoy the moment,” said Ware, who struck out five and walked five while hitting one.

It wasn’t always smooth for Ware, in fact, it rarely was. The Pioneers had a runner on base in every inning but one. His biggest test came in the sixth when – with the Saints leading 2-0 – Adrian’s Ryo Haruyama reached on an error and Steve Rogers walked, then moved to second and third on a wild pitch with nobody out.

“Bear down and throw more strikes, that is all you can do as a pitcher,” Ware said of the jam. “My defense was working, so I figured I’d let my defense work.”

Ware fanned Adam Humes for the first out, then got Tyler Yockey to pop to short. He walked Nick Crouse to load the bases, but got Raymond Delvalle to hit a soft grounder to third. Angel Vargas fielded and made a quick throw to first to end the threat.

“(Ware) is one of the best pitchers,” Vargas said. “He goes after the hitters, and he gets the job done.”

The Saints increased their lead to 4-0 with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, and Ware sailed through the seventh. Ware retired the first batter in the eighth before facing Rogers.

Ware said he didn’t lose focus after the base hit.

“After I gave up that hit, it was only one hit in eight innings,” he said. “They’d have to continue to hit me. It was my day.”

Perhaps, but the day also belonged to two other Saints. Vargas hit his first professional home run – a shot to right in the fourth – and made a number of beautiful plays at third, including a diving stop to Rob Delvalle of a hit in the fifth.

“That’s a position I’ve played all my life,”said the former Atlanta Braves’ prospect. “Third base is definitely my position.”

“Angel’s a very good ballplayer,” said Saints’ manager Ryan Parent. “He’s had some struggles with the bat, but other than that he’s been very solid defensively for us. And today he put it all together.”

Also with a big performance was Saints’ leadoff hitter Chris Winder, who went 4 for 4 at the plate and hit an RBI single in the sixth.

Parent pulled Ware after eight innings, bringing in former Baltimore Orioles’ product Fernando Soler to pitch the ninth.

Parent was asked if he considered letting Ware go for a complete game shutout.

“I did, but the problem is, his pitch count was very high,” Parent said. “And as much as I wanted to give him the shutout, I need him for next week, so I didn’t want to risk him getting hurt.”

Soler struggled in the ninth. He gave up an RBI single to the Pioneers’ Sam Fischer, the walked Haruyama to load the bases with two out. But he got Rogers to ground to first to end the game.

The loss fell on Pioneers starter Brent Greenwood, who allowed all four runs, but only two were earned. He threw seven innings and allowed 10 hits, striking out two and walking two.

“He was able to hit his spots pretty good and keeping us off balance very well,” Parent said. “But he left some pitches high and we were able to capitalize on that.”

The Saints improved to 7-6.

GROUNDERS: Ware got a bottle of water dumped on him by a teammate after recording the win. His response? “That was cold.”…Vargas on his first homer as a pro: “I’m trying to force myself to create more power at the moment of impact. And well, it’s working.”…What’s it like to homer in a pro game? “It’s great, it’s a great feeling,” Vargas said. “I have no words to explain that. I feel proud.”… The Saints will host the Pioneers again today, this time for a doubleheader at Peaceful Valley. The first game starts at 1 p.m. Parent said that Ashland University product Zach Botjer will pitch Game 1, while Steve Landell will start Game 2.

Langhill goes distance in Travelers’ victory

Behind a strong performance on the mound from Justin Langhill, the Ohio Travels doubled up Marion’s Shovel City Crawlers, 4-2 Friday.

Langhill pitched a complete game, giving up single runs in the second and third frames. He allowed five hits, four walks and two hit batters on the night.

Scott Underwood led Traveler bats going 3 for 5 with a homer, two singles and an RBI. Anthony Waterloo and Chris Christopoulos each added RBIs.

The Travelers are back for a doubleheader today in Marion against the Crawlers, with Game 1 starting at 1 p.m.