OTTAWA — It is said the first rule about no-hitters is that you don't talk about no-hitters.
However, if anyone was discussing the chances of Ottawa senior left-hander Jared Herzog tossing a no-no at any point of Monday's IHSA Coal City Class 3A Regional quarterfinal contest against Kankakee at King Field, they would have been OK.
He knew the situation every pitch of the way.
Herzog shook off a pair of walks in the opening inning, racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts and completed the five-inning no-hitter to help the No. 6-seeded Pirates — now winners of four straight — advance with a 14-0, 10-run rule victory over the No. 7 seed Kays (11-13).
The win moves Ottawa (15-13) to Wednesday's 4:30 p.m. semifinal at Coal City against the sub-sectional No. 2-seeded Coalers.
"I used to be one of those guys that wouldn't have known that I had a no-hitter going, but I guess as I've gotten older I keep track of that in my mind a little bit more," said Herzog, who needed just 72 pitches to spin the gem and didn't allow the ball to be hit out of the infield. "Today my mindset was, 'You're not going to hit this fastball, I'm going to try and put it down the middle, and I dare you to hit it.'
"I felt like everyone on the team was ready to go from the very start today. Our attitude the past four games has been so positive, and that's one of the reasons I think we've been playing well."
While Herzog was working his magic on the mound, he also started the Pirates from his leadoff spot at the plate by drilling the second pitch from Kankakee starter and losing pitcher Camden Kearney over the right fielder's head for a triple — then scored the only run he would need when Wyatt Hill's grounder to short was misplayed.
Consecutive singles by Ben Lundy and John Bruner advanced, then scored, Hill. Lundy eventually scored on a wild pitch, Bruner touched home plate on Jace Addis' base hit, and Addis made it 5-0 Ottawa after scampering home on the third errant pitch of the frame. The Pirates scored two more times in the second after Hill and Lundy both singled and eventually scored on one of the Kays' four fielding miscues.
"There has just been a greater motivation with the postseason coming around to play better baseball," said Lundy of the recent winning streak. "The middle of this season was kind of a rough stretch, but we have been really playing well since our win over La Salle-Peru last week and are on a little bit of a roll now.
"When we get good pitching, like we did today from Jared, I think it just relaxes everybody. We have been playing good defense too, but we didn't get very many chances today, so it let us really focus on our hitting."
Ottawa scored four times in the third to make it 11-0 with an RBI double by Peter Walsh, run-scoring single from Herzog and sacrifice flies by Hill and Bruner. The Pirates scored three unearned runs in the fourth off Kankakee reliever Ethan Neely with two outs.
"We knew coming into this season that Jared was going to be one of our better arms, and now this is back-to-back games where he has really shown what he is made of and what he is capable of," said Ottawa coach Brent Moore, referring to Herzog's two-hit shutout of the Cavs last Tuesday at Masinelli Field. "No-hitters are extremely hard to do, but Jared was effective today, because he was hitting his spots very well.
Ottawa showed aggressiveness but patience at the plate, finishing with 10 hits on the day, with half going to the opposite field.
"It's easy to say to hitters, 'Hey, hit the ball the other way if a pitcher is pitching you away,' but isn't always easy to do," Moore said. "Hitting is all about confidence, and we have a lot of that right now when we step into the box."
At King Field, Ottawa
Ottawa 14, Kankakee 0 (5 inn.)
KANKAKEE (0) — Moore c 1-0-0-0, Kearney p/ss 2-0-0-0, McNeely 1b/p 2-0-0-0, Robertson ss/cf 1-0-0-0, Hetherington cf/1b 2-0-0-0, Medina lf 2-0-0-0, Zarate dh 2-0-0-0, Springer rf 0-0-0-0, LaRoche 2b 2-0-0-0, Harris 3b 2-0-0-0. Totals 16-0-0-0.
OTTAWA (14) — Herzog p 3-3-2-1, Hill ss 3-2-1-2, Lundy ss 3-2-2-0, Bruner dh 2-1-1-2, Mezel c 0-0-0-0, Harth 1b 2-0-0-0, Stevenson ph/1b 1-0-0-0, Addis cf 3-1-1-1, Carson lf 2-1-0-0, Ruger 2b 3-2-1-0, Walsh rf 3-2-2-1. Totals 25-14-10-7.
Kankakee (11-13). 000 00 — 0 0 4
Ottawa (15-13) 524 3x — 14 10 0
LOB — Kankakee 3, Ottawa 4. 2B — Walsh. 3B — Herzog. SB — Moore, Addis. SF — Hill, Bruner.
Kankakee ip r er h bb k
Kearney (L). 3.0 11 6 9 2 4
McNeely. 1.0 3 0 1 1 2
Herzog (W, 5-5) 5.0 0 0 0 2 13