My arm felt really good in the bullpen (warming up). I threw a couple separate bullpens, like a simulated game, and they both felt really good. It was fun. —Ben Rigby, on throwing a no-hitter
KAYSVILLE — Ben Rigby has always been flirting with a no-hitter.
For a long time.
This time, though, the Davis High pitcher finally got to, so to speak, "kiss the girl" — the coveted baseball no-no, that is.
Rigby, an imposing 6-foot-6 senior southpaw, notched the first no-hitter of his high school baseball career Wednesday when he used an assortment of effective pitches to hold Syracuse High hitless in the undefeated Darts' 6-0 Region 2 victory.
"That was my first one," said Rigby, who threw three one-hitters last season. "It's a good feeling.
"I think I was kinda getting them off-balance with my curveball and changeup, and I was throwing the hardest I've ever thrown, I feel like.
"My arm felt really good in the bullpen (warming up). I threw a couple separate bullpens, like a simulated game, and they both felt really good," he said. "It was fun."
Along the way, Rigby recorded seven strikeouts — including five straight batters in the middle innings -- and walked four. He allowed three of those bases on balls in the sixth inning, when longtime Davis High head coach Dave Leo had to visit the mound and encourage his star hurler to regain his focus and throw strikes when the Titans (5-5, 2-3 Region 2) had two runners in scoring position with just one out.
"I came out there and he looks at me and he goes, 'Are you taking me out?' " coach Leo said. "And I said, 'Well, no, I just came out here to ask you a question.' I said, 'They don't have a base hit yet, but I see all kinds of guys on base. So how'd they get there? I just wanna know how those guys got there because I haven't seen any hits yet.' And he said, 'Uh, I'll take care of that.'
"I told him, 'Ben, listen to me, you have got to throw strikes right now. ... I'm not into a whole lotta fanfare here, I'm into winning this game, so I'm gonna give you one more shot. You're about one guy away from making me go get the hook.
"I told him, 'Hey, if it takes throwing it down the pipe, then throw it down the pipe,' " the Darts' coach said after his team improved to 4-0 in Region 2 and 9-0 overall. "... You have to figure out a way to get 'em focused again. ... And I've got eight other kids out there to help him; they know how to play ball, too."
Rigby promptly reared back and struck out the next Syracuse hitter. Then, after issuing a walk that loaded the bases, he induced the Titans' Josh Garver to hit a comebacker to the mound for the last out of the inning.
"I was pretty mad. I thought he was gonna come pull me," Rigby said of the sixth-inning conversation with his coach. "I was like, 'Oh, no, I wanna finish this.'
"My arm got a little tired, and when my arm gets tired, I've gotta buckle down and just focus more I guess," said Rigby, who will pitch collegiately for BYU.
In the seventh inning, Rigby got a couple of groundouts to sure-handed second baseman Brevin Holmes, sandwiched around another strikeout, to finish off his rare pitching gem.
"When he come off the field after the sixth inning, he looks at me and he says 'I'm finishing this,' " said Leo. "And I said 'Yes, you are. ... You've got a six-run lead; every pitch you throw right now is a strike. Make 'em swing the bat.'
"He is so intimidating ... and he's got the wingspan of a 747," Leo said of Rigby. "That's got to be intimidating out there, as big as he is."
Leo also gave the Darts' defense plenty of credit.
"That second baseman I've got is unbelievable," he said. "We made a lot of plays behind him."
After three scoreless innings, the Darts finally broke through in the fourth inning. Catcher Dom Fuller had a leadoff single, and pinch-runner Zack Mansfield promptly stole second base. After a groundout, third baseman Jackson Marler's high fly ball to center field was dropped for a costly error, putting runners at second and third.
"It went up the middle and I was like, 'OK, it's gotta fall somewhere,' " said Birrell. "It went farther than I thought, but I thought it would fall for sure."
In the fifth, Davis put it away when a walk to Rigby, a single by first baseman Jaxon Knight, a wild pitch, a walk by Marler, a bunt single by Hall, Birrell's bases-loaded walk, a fielder's choice by right fielder Jamison Burningham and an infield single by second baseman Brevin Holmes produced four more runs.
Birrell was excited to play a part in Rigby's no-hitter and said the Darts' goal is to make some noise in this year's 5A state tournament.
"We were planning to drive out for anything, even if it was 10 feet away from us, we were gonna dive for it (to preserve the no-hitter)," he said. "It's awesome, it's so cool. It's awesome to be here and witness that.
"We want it so bad. We want to go as far as we can. ... We want it all this year, that's what we want. I think we'll do some damage this year (in the state tournament)."