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News / Sports / Clark County Sports

Three Ridgefield Raptors pitchers combine for first no-hitter in team history

Dylan Stewart, Curtis Hebert, Mac Elske complete rare feat in Raptors' 10-0 win over Yakima Valley Pippins

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 11, 2024, 11:08pm
3 Photos
Ridgefield's Mac Elske celebrates after getting the last out in a combined no-hitter Tuesday June 11, 2024, during the Raptors’ 10-0 win against the Yakima Valley Pippins at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
Ridgefield's Mac Elske celebrates after getting the last out in a combined no-hitter Tuesday June 11, 2024, during the Raptors’ 10-0 win against the Yakima Valley Pippins at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — Just how rare is a no-hitter in summer collegiate baseball?

Among three Ridgefield Raptors pitchers (Dylan Stewart, Curtis Hebert and Mac Elske) and catcher Justin Stransky, only one of them had experienced such a feat prior to Tuesday’s 10-0 win against the Yakima Valley Pippins, a collective effort from three pitchers at the top of their games who combined for the first no-hitter in team history.

It was also the 10th no-no in the West Coast League and first since 2016.

“I’ve never been a part of a nine-inning no-hitter like that, so that was pretty cool to be a part of. That was fun,” Stransky said. “It felt like every single pitch that I called, it didn’t matter, because those guys were going to execute, they were going to make their pitch no matter what I called and they were just going to do their thing.”

Cheers from the Raptors’ dugout grew louder after Elske (Chaminade) entered the game in the eighth inning and promptly struck out two Pippins batters before third baseman Patrick Engskov fielded a chopper in time to get the out at first.

16 Photos
Ridgefield's Kyle Memarian heads to home plate Tuesday June 11, 2024, during the Raptors’ 10-0 win against Yakima Valley Pippins at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
Ridgefield Raptors vs. Yakima Valley Pippins Photo Gallery

“(I) had no idea we had a no-hitter going. It was kind of when I was pacing in the dugout in the middle of the eighth when I saw no hits,” Elske recalled. “That’s when I kind of started thinking about it a little more.”

Three outs away from a no-hitter, Elske calmly got the first out on a strikeout, then after a ground out fielded by shortstop Taylor Takata, Elske got Preston Allen to strike out swinging for the final out and was mobbed by teammates on the mound seconds later.

“Going out for the ninth, I could feel it from the dugout,” Elske said. “With each pitch, you could feel the energy kind of mounting. I didn’t want to be the one to let them down, so I just kept trying to make pitches and it ended up working out well.”

The night began with five stellar innings from Stewart (Pepperdine), making his second start of the season, who worked around two early walks in a tight strike zone set by home plate umpire Anthony Artini to strike out the side in the first inning.

From there, the Pippins had just one other baserunner when Stewart gave up a leadoff walk in the fourth inning. The threat was promptly shut down with a fly out and 4-6-3 double play to end the frame.

“Honestly, it’s all in the mental,” Stewart said. “Just attacking hitters, not being timid, going at them with everything I got and just being aggressive.”

Stewart finished with seven strikeouts and three walks allowed through five, when Ridgefield held a commanding lead that increased to 6-0 in the fifth when Kyle Memarian hit an RBI single, then scored on an Engskov RBI double laced down the third base line.

“It’s crazy, that was the first one I’ve ever been a part of. Being able to do that after some tough games in the past, it’s huge,” Stewart said.

Any thought of the Raptors dropping off from starter to middle reliever was quickly put to rest when Hebert (Portland) entered the game to start the sixth and compiled a 1-2-3 inning on just nine pitches.

Hebert struck out two Pippins batters to open the seventh and got the third out on the ground. He and Elske both pitched two innings complete.

“One thing with summer ball — sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t,” Hebert said, “and I think moments like this help bring the guys together. With all the moving parts in summer ball, I think it brings the team together more.”

The win was the second in a row for Ridgefield (3-6), which had its share of struggles at the plate over the prior eight games to start the 2024 West Coast League season, though the team set new season highs in runs (10) and hits (8) during Tuesday’s win.

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While the Raptors continue to get that part of their game dialed in, a stalwart performance on the mound like Tuesday gives them added confidence in their ability to compete.

“With the offense sometimes struggling a little bit, we knew it was our job to kind of put together good games, not give up many runs, and I feel like we’ve been putting together a stretch of that,” Elske said. “We all feel like we’re in a really good spot on the pitching side.”

Three moments

Too slow, Joe – Yakima Valley starting pitcher Adam Brooks was called for a rarely-seen pitch clock violation while facing Ridgefield batter Justin Stransky in the third inning. The free ball helped Stransky earn a walk and the next batter, Jack Salmon, took a bases-loaded walk, his second in as many games. The Raptors took a 2-0 lead.

By any means necessary – Still looking for their first hit in the fourth inning, Kyle Memarian got a piece of a Yakima Valley pitch for a bloop single over the Pippins’ infield. The hit marked the start of a three-run inning that included a Luke Iverson ground-rule double plating two runs and a Richard Tejeda sacrifice fly.

Extra insurance – The Raptors tacked on three runs in the seventh inning on a Pippins fielding error, Iverson sac fly and a Tejeda RBI base hit.

Three players

Dylan Stewart – The right-hander from Pepperdine set the tone for the eventual no-hitter with five shutdown innings on the mound that included seven strikeouts and three walks.

Kyle Memarian – The Gonzaga infielder broke out of a five-game hitless streak with a 2-for-3 effort with one RBI and three runs scored.

Richard Tejeda – Making his debut with the Raptors, the USC commit delivered three RBI, including the team’s first two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies.

Three numbers

13 Combined strikeouts thrown by Stewart, Herbert in Elske in the no-hitter.

8 – Hits tallied by the Raptors, a new season high for a team that entered the game with a combined .159 batting average.

4 – New Ridgefield position players who suited up for the first time this season on Tuesday: infielder Taylor Takata (Hawaii), catcher/infielder Richard Tejeda (USC), infielder Patrick Engskov and outfielder Dasan Harris, both from Oklahoma.