'That’s stuff from movies, right?' Must-see catch clinches Westfield no-hitter, sectional title

NOBLESVILLE – Westfield ace Ty Anderson’s heart sank initially.

Once the ball rocketed off the bat of Fishers’ Benjamin Hammond heading for deep left field with two outs in the top of the seventh, Anderson admittedly felt the uncertain stillness.

The Fishers dugout began to quietly stir with arms raised for what seemed to be a game-tying solo home run, the end of Anderson’s no-hitter bid and a chance to rally back from a 1-0 deficit for a potential season sweep of Hoosier Crossroads Conference rival Westfield.

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As the ball carried through the air at Donald J. Dunker Field, Anderson and the Shamrocks collectively held their breath, except sophomore left fielder Nick Fero.

With the Class 4A Sectional 8 title game on the line, Anderson’s no-hitter in the balance and Westfield in search of its first sectional championship since 2011, Fero took flight.

“I’m just thinking get behind it as much as I can. I turned and looked to the wall and saw where it was, and I was like, ‘I may have to get up.’ I took one last look, and it was right there,” Fero said. “I just jumped up, reached back and made the catch of my life.”

Fero’s stretching catch heard round the world up against and above the left-field wall to secure Westfield’s 1-0 win set off a chain reaction — one the Shamrocks haven’t experienced in 13 years.

“My heart kind of dropped there for a second, then when I saw Fero come down with that, everything just froze,” Anderson said. “It was crazy.”

The first player to greet Fero, who triumphantly held the ball over his head, was center fielder Caden Lindsey. As the two tackled each other in the outfield grass, Anderson and the rest of the Shamrocks raced out toward them in elation.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dogpile in left field,” Westfield coach Ryan Bunnell laughed. “I need to catch my breath and save my ankle.”

Bunnell turned his ankle in left field during the celebration, but the 22-year coaching veteran could care less about a postgame limp.

For the sixth time since 1995, Westfield (20-10) was a sectional champion, and it took upsetting No. 8 Fishers (22-9) on Memorial Day behind a near-perfect game by Anderson to avenge two regular-season losses.

“Sectional 8, man. I said after the last game (against Zionsville) I was going to need to sleep for five days. I may need 10 days for this one,” Bunnell said. “What can you say about Ty? Ty was like vintage Ty, working quick, getting weak contact. He was just magnificent today.”

Anderson, an Eastern Illinois recruit, retired the first 13 batters he faced Monday, didn’t walk a hitter, struck out six and left one runner in scoring position after Evan Doran reached on a fielding error in the top of the fifth.

“I just went into today with a lot of confidence. I knew my team had confidence in me. I had confidence in them, so I knew we were going to roll today,” Anderson said. “I knew I was in control after that first inning. I felt real dominant.”

Anderson faced 22 batters overall and only needed 71 pitches to log his first career no-hitter.

Fishers’ Gavin Kuzniewski, an Ohio State commit, carried a no-hitter for the first three innings, retiring seven straight early on and finishing with three hits allowed with one walk and one strikeout.

The pitching duel kept the game scoreless until the bottom of the fifth when the Shamrocks finally broke through.

A two-out rally by the Shamrocks in the fifth was just enough to lock down Bunnell’s fourth sectional title (2008, 2009, 2011) in his career.

A walk drawn by Lindsey followed by a stolen base set up junior Drew Law (1-for-2), who laced a single up the middle to drive in Westfield’s lone run.

“We just had to keep grinding away. We knew it was going to be a tough game. Their pitcher had his stuff, and so did ours, so we knew it was going to come down to one or two runs,” Law said. “I just had to breathe and get back in there after a strikeout the other (at-bat), so it was just being patient and keeping with the grind.”

Fishers had won three straight prior to the title game, while Westfield put together a seven-game streak entering Monday to make amends for an up-and-down season.

Westfield baseball team poses with sectional trophy after 1-0 win over Fishers on Monday at Noblesville's Dunker Field.
Westfield baseball team poses with sectional trophy after 1-0 win over Fishers on Monday at Noblesville's Dunker Field.

The Shamrocks opened the year 5-0 before dropping seven of eight in April. They were ranked in the IHSBCA top-10 poll in late March but fell out of the rankings as the season progressed and weren’t considered a sectional favorite.

“We went through a tough stretch for about two or three weeks there when (third baseman) Ian Wilson pulled his hamstring against Carmel. Cade Lindsey got hit by a pitch and was out. We lost those two for almost three weeks at least,” Bunnell said. “We were in ball games, but we just couldn’t quite pull them out. So many teams would have given up, and they didn’t. We just kept telling them to persevere and something good was going to happen. It sure as heck did today.”

The Shamrocks are planning to commemorate it, as photos of Fero’s catch began surfacing after the postgame trophy ceremony.

“You never think you’ll see that. That’s stuff from movies, right? Just unreal,” Bunnell said. “We do have it. I might frame that one. That one might go up in the clubhouse permanently. For sure.”

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Westfield wins sectional title on no-hitter capped by ridiculous catch