Forrest eighth grader Zach Horvath pulled off the Johnny Vander Meer of middle school baseball Friday night in Chapel Hill, tossing his second consecutive no-hitter.
After throwing a no-no versus Cornersville last week, Horvath came back against Riverside Christian Academy and tossed seven innings of no-hit ball, striking out 8, and walked three Knight batters in a 4-2 win that kept FMS atop the conference standings.
"I never, ever dreamt of doing anything like this, it is amazing," said Horvath after the game.
FMS head coach Randy Gaskill said in the postgame interview, "Back to back no hitters are a hard accomplishment. It is hard enough to throw two, let alone back to back. I know what I am getting every time Zach goes out there. He is extremely tough to handle when he is on."
Horvath set down the side in order in the top of the first inning.
The Rockets got all the runs they would need for the victory in the bottom of the first, beginning with a lead-off single down the third base chalk by Brooks Lamb.
Lamb stole second and after a Forrest strikeout, Horvath walked on a 3-2 count.
A double steal by the Rockets put runners on second and third for Richie Smith who belted a single to right that scored both Lamb and Horvath.
Two subsequent RCA errors led to Smith crossing home plate for a 3-0 FMS
Horvath set down the first two Knight hitters in the second before an infield throwing error put Madison Duncan on second. Duncan never made it to third on a stolen base attempt when he was gunned down for the third out.
Forrest did not score in the bottom of the inning and then the Rockets threw some leather at the Knights in the third on two great plays in the infield. With one down and a man on first due to a walk, Horvath fielded a bunt attempt in front of home plate and gunned the speedy runner.
RCA's David Anderson came up and hit a slow roller to third base that looked like he would beat out, but Austin Harber scooped up the ball and gunned Anderson out at first by a half of a step, ending the frame.
FMS did score in the home half of the 3rd inning and neither squad scored in the fourth.
Horvath faced Shawn Betz, leading off the top of the fifth and Betz hit a sinking liner to left field that looked like a base hit until Smith came racing in to make a shoe string grab, preserving no-no.
The Rockets added their fourth and last run of the ballgame in the bottom of the 5th on a Lucas Pruitt RBI single that scored Smith, who had walked and went to second on a wild pitch.
The defense behind Horvath was on shaky ground in the top of the seventh as the Rocket infield committed three errors in the inning, allowing RCA to cut the lead to 4-1 as the Knights had runners on first and third with just one out.
Corey Albert came to the plate for the Knights and hit a fly-ball to right field that was caught by Brandon Beech. The runner on third tagged up and scored on the play, but Beech fired to Horvath on the cut-off play and Horvath threw to third, nailing the runner from second, trying to advance, ending the inning.
"I was a little scared there in the 6th, but once again my teammates pulled it out for me," said Horvath.
The Rockets did not add any runs on in the bottom of sixth and Horvath finished off the no-no in quick fashion in the seventh, whiffing the first two batters before retiring the last RCA hitter on a groundout to end the game.
Gaskill was elated about Horvath's performance and the performance of his entire squad in hanging in there to pull it out.
"They were all ready to play ball today," said Gaskill. "They were all prepared to what they were going to face today and I think Lamb's hit there to start the game was big. They were not scared to go up there after that."
Gaskill also noted the great job behind the plate by back-up catcher Ty Hoeft, who was starting just his second game behind the dish this season in relief of starting backstop Dakota Whaley, who was ill.