As Shay Schanaman was engulfed in a sea of teammates, the Pioneers filed out of the third base dugout toward shallow left field, where Coach Ryan Sires quietly addressed his team before departing Oregon Trail Park. Their offensive ineptitude at home has been an issue in July, but it reached rock-bottom on Sunday.
Schanaman became the second pitcher in Expedition League history to toss a no-hitter, and the first to blank the Pioneers in the hit column. The righty from Nebraska was near perfect, with his only blemishes on the night being two walks and three hit batsmen. He struck out 10 in a 7-0 win.
Schanaman survived an hour-long lighting delay in the fourth inning in his mission to retire 27 batters before giving up a hit. The Grand Island, Nebraska native leaned heavily on his defense in the ninth, navigating his way through the top of the Pios order to secure the first no-no in Sodbusters history. He needed 113 pitches, the last of those to get Josh Davis to ground out to short to end the game.
The closest the Pioneers came to a hit was in the third, when CF Tyler Baca turned on a 1-1 fastball that looked ticketed to fly over the right field wall, but the wind, which was blowing in hard from right, sucked the ball back into the field of play as Ryan McDonald made the catch with his back to the wall to retire Baca. The Pioneers threatened in the fifth, after Schanaman beaned Brady Lavoie and Cole Hoskins to bring up the nine-hole hitter Ethan Loveless with two on and two out with a chance to get on the board. Loveless hit a routine ground ball to second base, but Connor Laux was eaten up by the ball as it kicked away from the Cloud County Community College sophomore. Laux recovered nicely, but Loveless’s hustle out of the box was enough to beat any throw from Laux to first baseman Tredaway. However, Lavoie was gunned down trying to take home plate and put the Pioneers in the run column.
Sitting in the 93-96 mph range, Schanaman overpowered the Pioneers with his fastball, complemented by a wipeout slider and a solid changeup. He threw 75 of his 113 pitches for strikes, getting eight Pioneers to strikeout swinging. Schanaman’s last three outings have been against these Pioneers, and after tonight he has accumulated an absurd 31 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched. He has given up a mind-blowing three hits in that span.
Grant Schmidt homered off Jace Hansen (1-4) with two out in the third, which was all Schanaman would need. Hansen was pulled from the game after a somewhat lengthy lightning delay that lasted roughly one hour for righty Cameron Skinner. The multifaceted Skinner pitched 2.1 innings giving up three runs — two earned — on four hits while striking out one. Harold Baez, who was roughed up in Hastings during his last outing, bounced back nicely by pitching a shutout seventh inning. Seth Kuykendall, who arrived earlier this week via Western Oregon University, made his Pioneers debut in the eighth. Kuykendall had a mostly effective outing, minus serving up a two-run moonshot off the bat of Ryan McDonald.
For the Pioneers, the Sunday night loss represented the latest unsightly performance from their team at home. The offense is hitting a collective .230 on the season, good for last among the six Epediton League teams in 2020.
The Pioneers will look to avoid the sweep in the finale of the three-game set on Monday. The Sodbusters will most likely send Nate Zyzda to the bump, who the Pioneers have light up for 13 runs in 7.1 innings pitched this season.