With one out in the seventh, St. Clair’s second batter cracked a hot shot toward Brendon Brown, who was hanging out just to his right of first base.
Brown tried a backhanded catch, but the missile caressed the edge of his mitt before zipping into right field for the host Cyclones’ first hit.
It would be their only hit, too. Bryce Novak, who started on the mound for the Clippers, roared back with a strikeout, his 13th of the outing, and then Brown fielded a softer grounder for an unassisted final out in the 6-0 Cleveland win.
In his second start of the season April 9, Novak wasn’t expecting to go the distance and wasn’t aware the single broke up his bid for a no-hitter.
“I didn’t want to look in the books. I didn’t want it get into my head,” said the senior, who plays baseball all year round and will wear a Gustavus black and gold uniform next spring. “I just wanted to do my job and not think about what was happening. After a while, my arm stretched on its own When you’re up this much, you don’t want to quit.”
Novak’s classmate Danny McCabe, who also will be playing baseball seven miles west of Cleveland next spring, led the game off with a double. He stole second and scored on an Alex McCabe sacrifice fly.
That was the winning run for the Clippers. With Novak in charge on the mound, the Clippers’ five other runs were of the Prudential variety.
The McCabes got back-to-back singles in the second, and both advanced on a passed ball. Following up, Novak uncoiled for a single and two RBIs. After Novak swiped second, Brown batted him in on a single, and the Clippers were up 4-0.
Helped by the wind in the fifth, catcher Luke Mueller’s fly toward second fell to dirt. The Cyclones decided they already had enough of Novak and issued him an intentional walk. After the runners advanced on stray pitches, Brown knocked them both in with a hit up the middle for the game’s final runs.
The Clippers struck out six times and got six free passes, two on errors, three on walks and one from a hit batter. Jake Anderly smacked a single in the fourth, and Novak singled in the final inning for seven Clipper hits.
Besides the single, the Cyclones got on base only three other times, once on a third-strike passed ball, once on a walk and once on a hit batter.
Not that their defense was challenged a ton, but the Clippers had no errors.
“We’re putting it all together,” said head coach Bill John, who was proud of the Clippers’ composure, especially with limited outside practice, after only three games and despite losing most of their starters from last season.
With Thursday and Friday’s games postponed, the 2-1 Clippers, weather permitting, return to action when they host Martin Luther-GHEC-Truman on Tuesday.