Hayes carries Waterford in no-hitter, 5-0

Waterford’s Clay Hayes launches a pitch during a high school baseball game Tuesday against Symme Valley. Hayes pitched a no-hitter to blank the Vikings, 5-0. Photo by Mike Morrison.

WATERFORD — Early on in Tuesday evening’s Division IV sectional championship game at Waterford, it was quite evident that Wildcat starting pitcher Clay Hayes had outstanding stuff.

The big right-hander seemingly got better and better as the game went on as he tossed a no-hitter to lead the Wildcats to a 5-0 win over the Symmes Valley Vikings to claim their second consecutive sectional crown.

Hayes allowed just three base runners to reach base and faced just one batter over the minimum while striking out 10 to notch his sixth and biggest win of the season.

“The umpire was calling the low strikes so I was just trying to keep my fastball down,” said Hayes, who allowed just one ball to leave the infield and never allowed a Viking base runner to reach second base. “It seemed like it was hard for them to catch up with that low fastball.”

For much of the first three innings, Symmes Valley starting pitcher Chayden Renfroe managed to match Hayes pitch for pitch before a fielding miscue with two outs in the third inning snow balled into big trouble for him and the Vikes.

After Renfroe sat down the first eight hitters of the game, Noah Huffman reached on a fielding error and then advanced to second when a pickoff attempt sailed over the first baseman’s head and down the right field line.

Isaac Huffman drew a walk as did Jordan Welch before a wild pitch resulted in the first Waterford run of the game.

Third baseman Braden Bellville singled into left field to knock in the second run of the inning for the white and green before Hayes helped himself in a huge way by doubling to the fence in left center field to plate two more runs and give his team a 4-0 lead.

“I thought before the game that if the Renfroe kid pitched well that we were going to be in for a ballgame,” said Waterford head coach Doug Huffman. “He pitched a great game but they made that two-out error and we were able to take advantage.”

The Wildcats added a fifth run in the last of the fifth inning on consecutive basehits by Noah and Isaac Huffman and centerfielder Jordan Welch.

Hayes allowed the first Symmes Valley baserunner to reach base in the fourth when he walked Payton Hayes but got the next hitter to bounce one right back to him that led to an inning ending double play.

Derik Brace also drew a base on balls with two outs in the fifth but Hayes left him stranded by fanning the next hitter.

After the Wildcats were retired in the last of the sixth, Hayes took the mound looking to finish off the no-hitter in the top of the seventh.

Waterford first baseman Riley Burns made a nice catch on a foul ball up against the fence for the first out of the seventh before Renfroe reached base on the lone error of the game by the Wildcat defense.

Hayes got the very next hitter to ground sharply to Bellville who fired to second where Noah Huffman’s throw to first was dug out of the dirt by Burns for a game ending double play.

“Our team is a super good team defensively and those two double plays were big,” said Hayes, who improved his season record to 6-2 with the no-no.

Coach Huffman had Bellville warm up as a precautionary measure in the later innings but Hayes had no doubt he was going to go the distance.

“He was thinking about taking me out and putting Bellville in but I told I would quit if he did that,” joked Hayes, who threw just over 70 pitches in the game. “I still felt really strong and I was glad he let me finish.”

Waterford improved to 21-5 with the win and will next travel to Chillicothe next Monday night to take on the winner of the Whiteoak versus Fairfield sectional championship game.

Symmes Valley season comes to an end with an 8-13 record.