By Will LeBlond
When young athletes grow up idolizing superstars on television, there are a few individual performances that tend to stick out and that they want to do themselves.
In golf, the ultimate dream is to drain a hole-in-one, with hockey’s equivalent being the elusive hat trick. On the baseball diamond, the fantasized feat is to toss a no-hitter on the mound and a few of those aspirations came true recently.
Liam Reynolds of Trumansburg and Connor Thayer of Ithaca both held their opponent away from the hit column of the box score when they toed the rubber a couple weeks ago.
Thayer’s “no-no” came first on April 10 against defending sectional champion Corning on the road. His approach to his start against the Hawks did not veer too far from his typical method, which is to be methodical and smart on the mound.
“Throwing strikes is always a big game plan of mine,” said Thayer. “You can throw hard and you can have amazing off speed stuff, but if you’re not throwing the ball over the plate, you’re not going to get outs.”
He finished with six strikeouts in the Little Red’s 7-0 victory, but the final moment when he clinched the historic performance did not include the instant gratification that one would expect.
“At the time, I didn’t know it was a no-hitter,” said Thayer. “I threw the last pitch of the game and I was standing there when everyone came running out and I didn’t know what was going on.”
Mum was the word on the Little Red bench as Thayer progressed with his outing on that day, which he appreciated when he looked back on his special day.
“I’m glad nobody told me I had a no-hitter going, because that would have messed some things up probably,” said Thayer.
Two days later, Reynolds pulled off the feat as well, this time on the road against Odessa-Montour/Watkins Glen. The team more formerly known as Seneca had their bats held silent by the sophomore, who had eight punchouts in the 8-0 Blue Raider win.
With a razor sharp focus on each batter similar to that of Thayer’s, the postgame celebration was another story of delayed glory.
“I never really thought about it until the end of it,” said Reynolds. “I threw the last pitch and then I looked around and saw everybody really excited about the accomplishment and I wondered what happened. It was a cool experience for me.”
While the performance was one to be cherished by Reynolds and his teammates, he wants more of those memories and has already started to work on it.
“It means a lot, but I’ve got to take it as a stepping stone for me,” said Reynolds. “I can’t just look at that and stop working, I can’t do that. I’ve got to show up to the next game and do better than before, or at least have that mentality.”
No matter what eventually will happen with the rest of Reynolds’ career, the experience against the Indians will be one that he can remember forever. Even as an underclassmen, he said that he kept cool under pressure to get the job done.
“I never really had a situation where I felt nervous,” said Reynolds. “I didn’t really have a moment where I could look at and think that it stood out. All the moments were awesome.”
Reynolds and the rest of his Blue Raider teammates are home again on Monday, May 1, against Moravia, then again on Friday, May 5, against Thomas A. Edison. And Thayer’s Little Red are back at Ithaca’s Tatascore Field on Friday, April 28 for a game against Union-Endicott, before they host Vestal on Monday, May 1.