NORTH BEND — Jake Simmons was as good as possible.
Against a Churchill baseball team that arrived in North Bend on Sunday with a 12-0 record, Simmons threw a no-hitter in the nightcap at Clyde Allen Field to give the Bulldogs a sweep over the Lancers.
With the 7-6 and 1-0 wins over the Lancers, North Bend improved to 5-3 in Midwestern League play and dropped Churchill to 6-2. Thurston leads the standings at 6-0.
In addition to pitching the gem, Simmons also had the lone RBI in North Bend’s nightcap win Sunday.
“That fourth inning my curveball felt just good, the balls were nice and it was just sliding in there,” Simmons said. “I couldn’t complain.”
Simmons was outstanding, walking just two batters during his no-no. He got help from his defense, too.
In the top of the second inning, a hooking line drive to left field looked like a sure double, but Brendon Roberts had other ideas.
He ran it down with a long, parallel dive, sending his glasses shooting off his face while he held the ball for a couple seconds.
“It was a heck of a play,” North Bend coach Brad Horning said. “He went after that one-handed. Sometimes he’s gone after that two-handed and the ball popped out. But he gave himself one hand on that and I think it made for (him being) more extended.”
From there, Simmons was nearly untouchable. He struck out six and that near-double the hardest contact allowed all day.
It allowed the North Bend offense, also stifled by six strong innings from Beau Bennett, win with just the one run.
That came in the fourth inning.
Brylee Anderson singled up the middle with one out, then moved to second when Jayden Frank grounded out.
Simmons chopped a ball to shortstop and although the transfer by the Churchill fielder was a quick one, Simmons was quicker and beat out the throw, allowing Anderson to score all the way from second.
Simmons was cruising on the mound most of the game, but found himself in a tough situations in the seventh.
His sixth strikeout got away from catcher Ian Spalding, and Mason Crowson hustled aboard. Churchill pinch ran for him, sending in Cho Tofte to hopefully swipe a bag and tie the game.
Tofte got to second after a groundout to Anderson, but he got no further.
Bennett chopped a ball to Frank at short, but it took sort of a funny hop right as it got to Tofte and clipped the baserunner, which made him out. By rule, it’s a fielder’s choice credited to Frank (the nearest infielder), so Simmons’ no-hitter stayed intact.
“Jake pitched extremely well,” Horning said. “We did some good things defensively.”
In the opener, North Bend scored four fourth-inning runs and Frank held off a late Churchill rally as the Bulldogs won.
North Bend capitalized on three Lancer errors, all three of which came in that fourth inning. Frank had two singles and scored twice in the win.
Carson Lydon hit a home run for Churchill, Prestin White and Burnett both doubled in the loss.
The sweep is a bit of reassurance for a North Bend squad that moved up to Class 5A this year and hasn’t necessarily had the results it wanted to far this season.
“It’ll just help us with staying on an upward slope,” Simmons said. “Keep going higher.”
The Bulldogs visit league-leading Thurston on Tuesday for one of their midweek nonleague games against a Midwestern League foe, North Bend’s only game this week with its bye in the league doubleheader schedule this weekend. They won’t play their league doubleheader against the Colts until May 11 at Clyde Allen Field.