After the team meeting following Tuesday’s game, Oshkosh North’s Alex Hintze was greeted in the dugout with a bucket of ice-cold water, which was dumped right over his head.
Hintze, who did everything he could to make sure the Spartans came away victorious, deserved it. The senior pitched a no-hitter and drove in the game’s only run as the Spartans picked up a 1-0 win over Oshkosh West in a Fox Valley Association game played at Peppler Field in Oshkosh.
“Alex Hintze pitched a beautiful game, he had a nice defense behind him and (catcher) Ben Leib was great behind the plate,” North head coach Troy Schaefer said. “I thought it was a great team win. Obviously Alex had some good stuff and was able to prevent them from getting a hit.”
The senior struggled with his command at times, walking five batters, but made up for it with 12 strikeouts.
So what was the secret behind Hintze’s success?
“I just tried to focus on staying in the present and focusing on the next pitch, not focusing on what happened in the last at bat,” Hintze said. “Coach is always telling me about mechanical things I can adjust to and I fought hard today and that worked out.”
Hintze wasn’t the only one that pitched well Tuesday. West’s Michael McBriar took the loss for the Wildcats (8-12, 6-9 FVA), but the freshman allowed only one run on seven hits, walked no one and struck out five.
“For a freshman to come in, and he’s been out for a couple weeks now with a broken wrist, but Oshkosh North is an outstanding hitting team,” Oshkosh West coach Tony Gerharz said.
But all it took was one hit from Hintze — a double to the left field gap — that allowed the Spartans (17-5, 12-3) to come away with the win.
Hintze’s clutch hit came in the top of the fifth inning. After Zach Angle led the inning off with a bloop single over first base, Will Clark bunted him over. After Angle advanced to third on a strikeout, Hintze hit a ball deep into the gap, scoring Angle.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play and make the most out of that at bat,” Hintze said. “I was trying to have a quality at bat, my coach preaches that all the time. I just tried to focus putting the ball in play.”
The Spartans were able to get on base frequently Tuesday, but were caught stealing twice — in the first and second inning — after the leadoff hitter reached base to thwart potential run-scoring opportunities.
Brandon Schroeder and Angle each were 2-for-3 for the Spartans, while Sam Hawley and Mitch Peterson collected the other hits.
The Spartans remain one game back from Kimberly, so the chance for a conference title is still intact. Hintze and the Spartans are just waiting for the Papermakers, which beat Appleton North 3-0 Tuesday, to lose a game.
Oshkosh North has three FVA games left — Appleton North (Thursday), Kaukauna and Appleton West.
“Hopefully,” Hintze said of the chances of catching up to Kimberly. “We need them to slip up a bit, but I’m confident with how we’re playing. We just need them to slip up and we’ll take advantage of it.”
Oshkosh North…000 010 0 — 0 7 0
Oshkosh West…000 000 0 — 0 0 1
WP: Alex Hintze (7 IP, 5 BBs, 12 Ks). LP: Michael McBriar (7 IP, 5 Ks, 0 BBs).
Leading hitters: Oshkosh North — Alex Hintze 1×2 (2B, RBI); Brandon Schroeder 2×3; Zach Angle 2×3. Oshkosh West — Jake Guenther 2 BBs; Cody Hinn 2 BBs.
Alex Wolf: (920) 426-6661; firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @Wolfa07
For a video interview of Alex Hintze, visit thenorthwestern.com