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Turlocks Wheeland earns second no-hitter
Performance highlights Bulldogs extra-inning win in tourney
Turlock High’s Vince Wheeland pitched his second no-hitter of the season against Enochs High on Thursday in the Bulldogs’ final game at the Windemuth Classic in Modesto. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal
MODESTO — By the time the extra inning rolled around, Turlock High ace Vince Wheeland was nowhere near tired. Yeah, his face was sweaty after throwing more than 100 pitches at that point, all while chasing his second no-hitter of the season.
“I was feeling good,” he said. “I was feeling stronger than in the first (inning).”
His pitches weren’t the only thing that was working well in Thursday’s game against Enochs High at the Windemuth Classic at Enochs High, as the squads were playing on the field named after Dick Windemuth. Wheeland’s swing was also as strong, evident by his double to right-center field at the top of the eighth that turned into a run after teammate Ryan Cumberland’s RBI single down the third-base line.
It was enough for an exhausting 2-0 win to capture what was considered third place in the round-robin tournament, though the Bulldogs earned an insurance run in their last turn at the plate off of pitch-hitter Tommy Evans’ high sacrifice fly to centerfield.
But as important was Wheeland’s second no-hitter.
Once again, as it was in a one-hitter against Buhach Colony High earlier in the season, there was some discussion about whether the Oklahoma State-bound senior’s performance warranted that lofty statistic. Enochs’ Matt Walsh drove a shot straight through Turlock’s replacement shortstop Ryan Flood that was initially thought of as a hit.
But Turlock coach Mark de la Motte reversed the ruling, making it Wheeland’s first no-hitter since earning one against Sierra High in the preseason. On Thursday, he pitched eight complete innings with 16 strikeouts, threw 120 pitches, faced only three occasions in which Enochs reached no further than second base and earned a 6-0 mark for the season.
It was a good day for the Bulldogs — who finished the tournament winning three of four games and notched a 13-3 overall record — but Wheeland arguably had a better one, both defensively and offensively. And his performance was much-needed against an Enochs team that had topped them 6-2 in the season opener, considering the Bulldogs were without UCLA commit and junior shortstop Kevin Kramer.
He was serving his first of a two-game suspension after being ejected in Wednesday’s game against powerful small-school Escalon High in the deciding game to play in the tournament’s championship, which Escalon eventually captured over Downey High. Kramer was thrown out for his reaction to the umpire’s third strike call. It put the Bulldogs in a tough situation, but they still managed to prevail.
“Really, we came out and did the same thing,” said Cumberland, who got the game-changing RBI single to send in Wheeland.
Before then, there was an impressive battle on the mound. Though Wheeland earned the victory, his counterpart, Enochs’ Donnie Fairchilds, posted a dominating day as well. Fairchilds collected seven strikeouts and allowed six hits, but was perhaps mentally worn out after being tested all day by the Bulldogs, who were in scoring position several times before Cumberland’s RBI.
“The guys did a great job at changing their at-bats late in the game,” said de la Motte, the Turlock coach. “We got a couple runners on. We got a big hit from Ryan and got a little insurance. With the way Vince was pitching, we sure didn’t want to lose.”
Especially when a no-hitter is at stake.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.