By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Theres an unwritten superstition in baseball circles that when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter you dont mention it in the dugout. At least not where that pitcher can hear you.
Luke Palmers Baker teammates challenged that superstition Saturday against Nampa Christian, but it didnt make any difference. Palmer was so dominant against the Trojans that even knowing he was on the verge of perfection didnt stop him.
Palmer needed just 62 pitches to fire a 10-0 perfect game in the opener of the non-league doubleheader at the Baker Sports Complex. Wes Cooke notched a three-hitter in the second game as Baker gained the sweep with a 14-0 romp.
Palmer struck out 11 Trojans in pitching his gem. Of his 62 pitches, 47 were strikes. He went to a two-ball count on only one batter.
When did he realize he had a no-hitter, let alone a perfect game?
I knew it after (his teammates) told me, he said. I knew it in about the fifth inning.
Palmer said his arm felt good all day.
I had command of all of my pitches, he said. Palmer throws a fast ball, curve and change.
Palmer struck out the side in the second and sixth innings, and struck out two batters each in both the fourth and fifth innings. It was Palmers second no-hitter of his high school career.
Baker coach Alan McCauley was pleased with both of his pitchers against Nampa Christian.
We got two good games out of Luke and Wes, he said. Both had good control and threw well.
Cooke struck out seven and walked just one in his solid outing.
Any time you dont give up the free passes youre going to do well, McCauley said.
In the opener, Greg Goodenough gave Palmer all the offensive support he needed with a line drive solo home run to left in the second inning. Chris Price added an RBI groundout in the inning as Baker took a 2-0 lead.
Goodenoughs RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Palmer helped the Bulldogs build their lead to 5-0 in the third.
Baker went up 7-0 in the fifth on an RBI hit by Price, and an error on Steve Valentines grounder.
The Bulldogs ended the game by the 10-run mercy rule with one out in the sixth. Consecutive singles by Brian Baker, Palmer and Cooke loaded the bases. Price drew a walk to force home one run. A second scored on a Trojan error. Then, Matt Mahoney ended the game by driving on Cooke with a sacrifice fly.
In the second game, Valentine opened the bottom of the first with a double, and Mahoney walked. Then, after an out, Palmer singled both runners home for a 2-0 lead.
Baker increased its lead to 5-0 in the second. Valentine drove home one run with his second double. Mahoney followed with a two-run double.
The Bulldogs earned their second 10-run win by scoring nine times in the bottom of the fourth.
Dan Justus led the inning off with a solo homer to left-center field. Pat Taylor and Baker each added two-run singles, Valentine an RBI hit, and Palmer a run-scoring fielders choice.
The kids hit the ball well, McCauley said.
Saturdays sweep came on the heels of Bakers first two losses of the season Friday at Meridian.
The Bulldogs lost 13-3 to Meridian, and 8-7 to Kuna.
The Meridian game was close until about the fifth inning, McCauley said.
Baker trailed just 4-0 at that point, but Meridian scored nine runs in the final two frames.
Bakers lone offensive highlight was Prices three-run home run.
Against Kuna, McCauley said, the Bulldogs never quite could gain control.
Kuna led 4-3 after two innings. Baker gained a 6-4 edge in the top of the fourth, only to fall behind 8-6 in the bottom of the inning. Baker cut the deficit to 8-7 in the fifth, but could get no closer.
Against Kuna we just couldnt get over the hump, McCauley said. We were always in striking distance, but just didnt get it done.
Justus had three hits for the Bulldogs. Valentine, Mahoney and Palmer each added two.
Baker hosts Weiser, Idaho, in a single game Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the Sports Complex.
Saturday Game One
Nampa Christian 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Baker 0 2 3 0 2 3 10
Gray, Kimmel (4) and Nelson. Palmer and Goodenough. WP Palmer. LP Gray.
Nampa Christian hits none. Baker hits Valentine, Boyer 2, Baker, Palmer, Cooke 3, Price, Goodenough 2, Mahoney.
Nampa Christian RBI none. Baker RBI Palmer, Price 3, Goodenough 2, Valentine, Mahoney.
Saturday Game Two
Nampa Christian 0 0 0 0 0 0
Baker 2 3 0 9 x 14
Howerfield, James (4), Eckstrom (4) and Nelson. Cooke and Price. WP Cooke. LP Howerfield.
Nampa Christian hits Gray, Eckstrom, Kroe. Baker hits Valentine 3, Mahoney 2, Baker 2, Palmer, Price, Taylor, Merritt, Justus.
Nampa Christian RBI none. Baker RBI Valentine 2, Mahoney 2, Baker 2, Palmer 3, Price, Boyer, Taylor 2, Justus.
2B Valentine 2, Mahoney, Merritt. HR Justus.
Friday Game One
Baker 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
Meridian 3 0 0 1 3 6 13
Valentine, Baker (6) and Price. Windle and Berner. WP Windle. LP Valentine.
Baker hits Baker 2, Palmer, Price 2, Taylor. Meridian hits Berner 2, Burkhart, Jaques, Larson, Craig 3, McDonough 3, Dunn, Gardner.
Baker RBI Price 3. Meridian RBI Berner 2, Craig 2, McDonough 4, Dunn.
2B Price, Jaques, Craig, McDonough. HR Price, Berner.
Friday Game Two
Kuna 4 0 0 4 0 0 0 8
Baker 0 3 0 3 1 0 0 7
Lona and Phillips. Boyer, Cooke (6), Palmer (7) and Price. WP Lona. LP Boyer.
Kuna hits Hammond, Phillips, Slagel 2, Phillips 3, Howell, Beverage, Simon 2. Baker hits Valentine 2, Mahoney 2, Baker, Palmer 2, Cooke, Merritt, Justus 3.
Kuna RBI Slagel 2, Phillips 3, Howell. Baker RBI Justus, Mahoney, Valentine, Baker, Palmer.
2B Slagel, Palmer, Justus. 3B Baker.