MERRILLVILLE | One pitcher had his no-hitter jinxed by his coach; the other almost kept his intact.
Valparaiso's Jerrick Suiter and Portage's Cody Jackson were much more consistent than the weather and led their teams to today's semifinal round of the Class 4A Merrillville Sectional.
With spring and fall represented in the temperatures and sunlight, pitching was crucial on a Friday afternoon that included an inning of ball between Chesterton and Michigan City, with the Trojans wrapping up the suspended game with a 9-2 win.
"I woke up feeling today was going to be a good day," Jackson said after taking a no-hitter into the fifth and exiting with two hits and one run allowed through five innings in a 6-1 win over Merrillville at Bill Metcalf Field.
"My coach jinxed me (before the fifth). He said, ‘You've got a no-no going.'"
Merrillville's Kenny Wright broke it up with a single, but Portage (24-7) already led 5-0 at that point.
"Getting the lead helped me settle in, and the defense was great," Jackson said. "I was a little nervous, and I had my Under Armour to fight the cold, but I thank my catcher for calling a great game."
Indians coach Tim Pirowski, who relays calls to catcher Jeremy SInkus, said Jackson did not allow the Pirates (8-21) to find any balance.
"Even in a fastball count, he threw curveballs for strikes," Pirowski said. "They couldn't get confident in the box."
Merrillville's Nick Feliciano fanned 11 in defeat.
Hobart hitters were off-balance in the box all night in the second game, thanks to Suiter, who had a no-hitter through five and allowed seven walks but just one hit with 11 strikeouts in a 9-0 win. Suiter fanned five of the final six outs.
He walked Christopher Moore, who was then ejected for throwing his bat.
The Brickies were matching the Vikings through four innings but became unraveled in a seven-run sixth.inning that began with a walk, an error and two more walks.
Suiter added three hits and an RBI. Teammates Nick Simon and William Timmerman scored two runs each. Greg Thome had two hits and two RBIs.
The first game, which began with the bases loaded and no one out, went from a 5-2 game to a 9-2 affair in a hurry. Chesterton, which will play Crown Point at 10 a.m. today, then sped through the bottom of the seventh with just a few pitches.
"It didn't last very long," Chesterton coach Jack Campbell said. "It was good."