EATON TWP. — Whenever Midview senior pitcher Eric Lauer takes the mound, it suddenly becomes an event.
With at least 20 major league scouts putting up their radar guns with every pitch Monday, Lauer made sure he left an impression.
Taking a perfect game into the fifth inning, Lauer (3-0) tossed his first no-hitter of the season against a Lakewood team that came in with an 11-1 record. Only two hit batters prevented Lauer from facing the minimum 21 hitters, and his dominance on the mound helped the Middies defeat the Rangers 6-0 in a key West Shore Conference game.
“He’s a good guy to have on your squad, isn’t he?” Midview coach Scott Jalowiec said. “When you’re in a bind or something like that, it’s always good to pull that ace out whenever you need it. This was a good team — Lakewood’s a good team. They weren’t 4-0 in the conference for nothing.
“This conference is a good conference. You’ve got to bring it every day. You’ve got to bring your best and you’ve got to play your best against every single one of these teams, and this was probably the best team we’ve played this year.”
The Middies (7-4, 4-1 WSC) and Lakewood are now tied with Avon atop the conference standings. Midview plays the Eagles on Wednesday.
Lauer struck out 12 — including five in a row — and retired the first 14 batters of the game before hitting Brian Hrdlicka with a 1-2 pitch in the top of the fifth inning.
“I didn’t realize what I was doing until after I hit that first batter,” Lauer said. “All of sudden, I realized, ‘This is the first time I’ve gone to the stretch. Wait a second.’
“When I got to the seventh, I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t give up a hit, or else you’re gonna be really mad.’ I was pressing a little bit for it, but I was still able to get it.”
Lauer said his location was the biggest factor in his performance.
“I was able to locate my fastball really well, and my changeup was working really good as well,” Lauer said. “The curveball was coming down pretty good, too. Just all my stuff, overall, was clicking.”
Was the presence of the scouts unnerving at all?
“It always pumps you up a little bit,” Lauer said. “Before the game, it’s a bit nerve-wracking. But then you get out there on the mound and it’s just another game.”
While Lauer was dazzling the Lakewood hitters, he and the Midview hitters wasted no time getting to Rangers No. 1 pitcher Jamison Foran (2-1).
A two-out rally in the first inning, starting with a single by Cody Callaway and followed by back-to-back RBI doubles by Lauer and Steven Frye, gave the Middies an early 2-0 lead.
In the third, the Middies used another two-out rally to increase the lead to 4-0. Three straight two-out singles by Frye, Tyler Lienerth and Brett Gerbec — the latter a two-run single to left — did the damage.
“We’ve been getting progressively better,” Jalowiec said. “Last week, we played Monday through Friday and you could see the progression with each game, and that’s carried over to today.
“This is the team that I thought we would have when we broke camp. We just got off a little slow, and with the weather delays we had early on, the kids lose their rhythm a bit. But, they’re finding their rhythm, they’re finding their swings. We put a lot of good balls in play today, and that team you saw today has the chance to do some interesting things this season.”
The Middies made it 6-0 in the fourth on a two-run double by Callaway.
“It was a game we needed to win, for sure,” said Lauer, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. “We needed to get them down a little bit and we started this season off really slow. But you’ve got to win every game you can. It’s just another game, but with Lakewood we knew there was a little more at stake.”
Lakewood coach Mike Ribar tipped his hat to Lauer.
“When you’re playing against a guy like that, you can’t give up any runs,” he said. “You’ve got to play a perfect game on the defensive side and hope that you eventually get something going offensively and squeeze a run or two across. We didn’t do that today.
“Hopefully, (Foran) watches what that kid does and sees what his potential can be. He mixes up his pitches and he’s not afraid to throw any pitch when he’s down in the count. At this level, you see a fastball in a 2-0 count almost 95 percent of the time and he’s throwing sliders. It’s a whole different world with Lauer on the mound.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.