Pleasanton sophomore Max Sauceda knew he had momentum on his side in Tuesday’s tilt with Uvalde.
The right-handed pitcher helped the Eagles (13-5) throw a combined no-hitter in a win over Dilley on Saturday at the Pearsall tournament. Sauceda used that momentum to toss another gem in Pleasanton’s 2-0 win over the Coyotes in their home opener.
Sauceda threw five-and-two-thirds innings, allowing just a pair of hits and a hit batsman to reach base while striking out nine along the way. He took a perfect game into the fifth inning and had his no-hitter intact with two outs in the sixth before Chris Rivera and Chris Hernandez delivered back-to-back hits to break up the no-hitter.
“[The Dilley game] boosted my confidence a lot,” Sauceda said. “Before this game, my adrenaline was pumping. I was one of the guys out there [in pregame] jumping up and down. Going from Dilley into this game, my confidence was very high.”
Sauceda knew he had his best stuff in the first inning when he struck out Rivera to open the game. He would go on to set down the Coyotes in order in the first four innings.
“[I knew] as soon as I threw my first pitch, my fastball,” Sauceda said. “That’s probably as fast as I’ve ever thrown my fastball. It was popping the glove. My changeup was working. My curveball was dirty.”
Senior Ty Hehman drove in both runs for the Eagles with a bases-loaded walk in the first inning and a single plus a defensive error on the same play in the fifth inning. Hehman was 1-for-2 at the plate with an RBI and a walk to his credit.
Hehman knew the Eagles had to do all they could at the plate and in the field to back up their sophomore pitcher.
“It fired everybody up,” Hehman said of his teammate’s pitching. “You want to make sure you can keep his no-hitter or perfect game if you can. We did our best. It sucks how it ended, but, hey, we got the win.”
Sauceda’s performance on Tuesday was just the first time in Pleasanton’s 18 games that a pitcher threw more than five innings. Tanner Hollis threw exactly five innings twice so far this season, but never more than five.
Against the team picked to win District 30-4A, Pleasanton wasn’t anticipating riding Sauceda into the sixth inning. Sauceda’s efficiency of 77 pitches during his outing was welcomed with open arms.
“This has been a weird, weird year that our pitch counts haven’t gotten up like we need to. Then we had the snow,” Head Coach Lance Standley said. “I didn’t know someone could 70 pitches as good as Max did. We were hoping to get him out at 70 pitches in the third or fourth inning. But he just pitched so well that we kept him in to get to 70.”
Fellow sophomore Tanner Hollis relieved Sauceda in the sixth inning and pitched a perfect one-and-a-third innings, stranding two inherited runners and striking out a pair to earn the save.
“Tanner came in and did his job,” Standley added. “It’s coming together.”
The win was Pleasanton’s sixth in a row. The Eagles feel they’ve got plenty of momentum on their side with four games left before district play begins for 29-4A. With seven days until their next game, Standley hopes the team can keep that momentum.
“We’ve gotta play next Tuesday, so we’ve gotta relax for a little while,” Standley said. “Then we’ve gotta play the next Tuesday and Friday. So this is going to be a little momentum breaker. We’re gonna have to make sure to step up at practices to keep the arms in shape and have good quality practices.”