Brooke Knight was hoping for five solid innings out of Greg Mahle.
After all, Mahle hadn't started a game on the mound since April 23, when he was in the middle of his freshman season at UC Santa Barbara.
But Knight wasn't concerned about that. He knew Mahle had the ability to deliver a quality start; he just wasn't expecting a no-hitter.
Mahle put on a pitching clinic against Cowlitz on Friday night. The left-hander allowed just three walks and became the first Corvallis Knight to toss a no-hitter. Corvallis won the game 14-0 before 1,379 fans at Goss Stadium, and clinched a spot in the West Coast League playoffs.
Mahle struck out six, including the game's final batter, Konnor Armijo, on a filthy breaking ball in the dirt.
"I was ready to go for this game and my arm felt great," said Mahle, who hadn't lasted longer than two innings in any of his 10 previous appearances for the Knights this year. "Coach Knight asked me how long I wanted to go, and I said 'all-night!' I have complete confidence in myself all the time. Any time you execute your pitches, something like this is always possible."
The brashness Mahle speaks with is not just for show. The burly left-hander is one of the most confident players Knight has ever coached.
"He is flat-out cut out for the sport of baseball," Knight said of Mahle. "He consistently puts barrel on the ball. He competes his tail off. He has a ton of confidence. He thinks he can get out Derek Jeter and A-Rod and (Mark) Teixeira back-to-back-to-back.
"If you have a guy like that with that mentality on the mound, you have to feel good about running him out there."
During the middle of the game, Knight phoned Andrew Checketts, who is Mahle's coach at UC Santa Barbara. Checketts is also a former Oregon State pitcher and Oregon pitching coach.
Knight's original plan was to have Mahle throw about 65 pitches Friday night. When he reached that number with a no-hitter intact, he needed to make sure Checketts was OK with Mahle staying in the game.
Checketts gave Knight the thumbs-up.
"Andrew is a good friend of mine. I just wanted to make sure I had his blessing. Knight said.
"This is such a special day for Greg. I am really, just, really happy for him."
Mahle threw 109 pitches. Unlike many no-hitters and perfect games, Cowlitz (23-26) was not robbed of a hit due to an outstanding defensive play. Mahle was that dominant.
Mahle was also a major contributor in Corvallis' offensive barrage at the plate. Hitting third in the batting order as the starting pitcher, Mahle went 4 for 5 with a double and two RBIs.
The Knights (28-21) led 10-0 after four innings, which took a lot of the pressure off Mahle.
"Getting all those runs is huge. You are not worried about winning the ballgame. You are just worried about doing your thing and throwing strikes. Luckily the team came through for me," Mahle said.
Mahle earned a number of honors following a sensational freshman year at UCSB. Read more about him here.
(story re-printed from the Corvallis Gazette-Times)