No-no: Edwards keeps Heritage hitless in Polk victory

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 27, 2018

As the bottom of the fifth progressed Wednesday night, no one in Polk County’s dugout stood anywhere close to Avery Edwards. Which mattered not, as Edwards was not standing still for long anyhow.

Wolverines up 6-0, 7-0, 8-0 — as Polk County added runs and moved closer to a 10-run victory, Edwards bounced more around the dugout, to a seat in the back, to the rail at the front, everywhere in between.

With Polk up 9-0, catcher Sedric Pickett put an arm around Edwards. Senior Wilson Edwards moved near as well. All watched together as Holden Owens’ fly ball to center fell safely, driving home Evan Rimer with the Wolverines’ 10th and winning run of the game.

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More importantly, that run secured for Edwards the ninth no-hitter in school history, the pitching gem giving the Wolverines a 10-0 victory over Mountain Heritage in a Western Highlands Conference clash at The Bottoms.

Four days after two-hitting Mountain Heritage, Edwards got the call again in order to let senior Tyler Harris start the regular-season home finale against Madison on Friday. He made the most of the opportunity, his two fifth-inning walks the only base runners the Cougars produced.

The junior, who threw just 62 pitches, added to one school record with his fifth shutout of the season and tied another with his sixth complete game, matching Chris Eckert’s record. All have been five-inning outings.

It is the first no-hitter for a Polk County pitcher since Lucas Cash held Thomas Jefferson hitless during the 2010 season.

Edwards struck out four and kept the ball down on a windy evening, receiving solid defensive support in return. Wilson Edwards made two nice plays at third, stabbing a line drive just off the ground and going down the left-field line to snare a foul popup. Grayson Jones made a pair of key catches in right field. And Owens ended the fifth inning with a double play, scooping up a grounder, stepping on a second and firing a one-hop throw to first that Kaleb Kropp fielded cleanly to end the inning.

“This has been a goal of mine since I was a little kid,” Edwards said. “To finally accomplish it today is exciting.

“I started thinking about it in the third inning. I was racking up the outs and the team was playing good defense. I got a little excited and walked a couple of guys and started getting nervous, but the team played great defense behind me. Holden picked me up with that double play. I was really excited to finish it.”

Polk County improved to 17-2, 13-0 with the win. Mountain Heritage dropped to 7-7, 7-6.

“Everything has happened this season,” said Polk County head coach Billy Alm, shaking his head. “He had that one blip tonight (the walks) and he corrected it and dominated.

“[Assistant coach Josh Money]and I are superstitious, and we didn’t want to make any changes in the field or changes to the lineup while he had it going. We just left everything alone and let him do his thing.”

The Wolverines scored in every inning but one, pounding out 12 hits and taking advantage of six Mountain Heritage errors. Owens finished 4-for-4 with four RBIs, with Nick Capozzi, Harris and Wilson Edwards each adding two hits.

Evan Rimer tied a school record by being hit by a pitch for the eighth time this season. That matches the mark set by Joel Booker in 2011.

But the evening belonged to Edwards.

“They’re a really tough team through their top four,” Edwards said. “I felt like I had my best stuff. I had a rough game at Mitchell, but I’ve felt relaxed after that when I’m out there.”

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