Windsor junior Logan Thornton tosses no-hitter in first varsity start, with departed grandmother on his mind
March 24, 2018
WINDSOR — With every promptly produced out Windsor junior pitcher Logan Thornton recorded, the anticipation ratcheted up a notch among the several dozen fans that lined the Wizards' fan section Saturday morning.
Each time Thornton sent a befuddled Roosevelt batter back to the dugout, he brought his own teammates closer toward well-deserved celebration.
Yet, even with so many invested observers intently looking on, the spectators at Mo Kvamme Field who witnessed Thornton achieve near perfection in his first varsity start weren't the only onlookers that mattered — nor were they necessarily the onlookers who mattered the most.
Thornton tossed a no-hitter in his varsity pitching debut, an 11-0 five-inning mercy rule-shortened win against Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference rival Roosevelt.
The game lasted just 78 minutes, as Thornton, a 6-foot-3 hurler, faced just one more batter than the minimum.
"It's a dream come true, really," Thornton said. "During the National Anthem, (the nerves) got to me. Then, as soon as I threw my first pitch in warmups, I just felt free."
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Thornton tossed just 67 pitches, striking out five and walking just two batters — one of which was negated by an inning-ending double play in the top of the second.
Windsor improved to 2-0 in conference, 2-0 overall. The Rough Riders fell to 2-2, 4-2, with both of their early season losses coming against the perennial conference powerhouse Wizards.
Thornton pitched plenty of innings as the top pitcher on Windsor's junior varsity squad a year ago.
Still, drawing a start at the varsity level in just the second game of the season would seem daunting for many.
As determined as Thornton was to reward the confidence his coach, Brad Deal, and his teammates showed in him, he was just as motivated to pitch well for his departed grandmother.
Carolyn DeGree died exactly a year before Saturday's game.
Thornton was especially close with his grandma and said he could feel her presence when he was on the mound. He's sure she was looking down on him as he achieved one of baseball rarest feats in his first varsity action.
"I felt it," Thornton said. "It's just incredible."
The way Thornton was sitting down batter after batter, odds are he would have completed his no-hitter even if the game had gone a full seven innings.
Still, it didn't hurt that Windsor's meticulous offense was able to end the game early and delay Thornton's inevitable accomplishment no longer.
The Wizards led all game, largely on the merits of Thornton's pitching prowess.
Up just 2-0 through four innings, Windsor's balanced lineup assured Thornton's gem wouldn't go to waste.
Led by senior Jake Barker, the Wizards scored nine runs on seven hits in the fifth to end the game in emphatic fashion.
Barker hit 3 for 3 with a triple, driving in three runs and scoring three more, batting from the two-hole.
"As a team, we just wanted to hunt fastballs," he said. "We didn't do a very good job of that on Thursday (in a 5-0 win against Roosevelt). Just our mentality here was just to go hunt some fastballs early in the count, and it worked out for us today."
Barker admitted once the first few batters of the massive fifth inning reached base, he and his teammates were motivated to the end the game right there and then — giving Thornton just as big of an assist as he gave them.
"I didn't want to say anything to (Thornton)," he said. "But, it was fun for sure. He was out there just shoving it. I loved it."
Deal said it's no surprise his players seemingly fed off each other after the first couple batters got on base during their game-ending bottom of the fifth inning.
It also was no surprise his batters seemed to make a concerted effort to help Thornton secure his no-hitter.
"They get excited for each other," Deal said. "Sometimes when you have 19 guys, they're thinking, 'Hey, maybe if he messes up, I get in.' But, these guys just want to win. I don't think they really care how we do it."
Best individual performance
Thornton, and his no-hitter, is a no-brainer.
Obviously the fifth inning was the most critical, even though Windsor was in control from the get-go.
"Unfortunately in a 19-game regular season you can't afford too many of these games," Roosevelt coach Jerod Cronquist said. "We didn't seem ready to play today from the first pitch. And, that's on us coaches to get them ready to go. But, we just played timid and scared."
The Wizards try to stay unbeaten at 4 p.m. Tuesday when they travel to the southern part of the state to face Pueblo East (3-4), which lost 3-0 to Roosevelt on March 9, its only loss to a Colorado team.
The Rough Riders try to regroup when making an even longer trip than what Windsor is making. They'll travel to Delta to take on the Panthers (3-3) in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
More to come
For more about how Thornton and junior cleanup hitter Derek Baessler have risen up for the Wizards from the junior varsity ranks a year ago, read Wednesday's On The Rise column.
RHS 000 00 — 0 0 3
WHS 100 19 — 11 12 0
RHS — Connery O'Donnell (L, 1-1, 8H, 5ER, 1BB, 7SO), Tyler Crook (5th, 4H, 0ER, 2BB, 0SO) and Tannor Shuffler.
WHS — Logan Thornton (W, 1-0, 0H, 0ER, 2BB, 5SO) and Keegan Vialpando. 2B – Derek Baessler 2, Josh Barker, Vialpando; 3B – Jake Barker, Braden Peninger; RBI – Baessler 3, Jake Barker 3, Vialpando 2, Josh Barker, Jaden Myatt, Zach Watts.