Dale's Kuykendall fires no-hitter in regional opener

Brian Johnson
Shawnee News-Star, USA TODAY NETWORK
Dale pitcher Conner Kuykendall makes the delivery to home plate against Pawnee Thursday in a Class 2A regional.
Dale's Tate Rector (14) connects for a double to left-center against Pawnee Thursday in Class 2A regional play.

DALE – Right-hander Conner Kuykendall almost achieved perfection in a five-inning game Thursday as the Dale Pirates drilled the Pawnee Bears 10-0 in a Class 2A regional baseball opener.

Kuykendall retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced for a no-hitter as he struck out seven and allowed no walks. The only Pawnee player to reach base was off an error.

“He threw really well. He got ahead in the count, changed his speeds and got his curveball over the plate. It's throwing strikes,” said Dale head coach Eddie Jeffcoat.

Later in the day, the Pirates earned a trip to the regional finals with a 17-1 thumping of Walters in five innings.

Dale (25-3) was scheduled to play for the regional title Friday night as the Pirates were one win away from qualifying for state.

Dale 10, Pawnee 0 (5 innings)

Kuykendall also helped his own cause by going 2-for-2 from the plate with two runs batted in off a pair of RBI singles as the No. 9 hole hitter.

In the leadoff spot, Ike Shirey finished 2-for-3 with an RBI double to right field and a run-scoring single to right, both of which occurred in the fourth inning, as Dale sent 13 batters to the plate and scored eight runs in that frame.

Shirey also helped preserve Kuykendall's no-hitter in the fifth when he made a diving stab of a sharp ground ball hit up the middle, fielded it cleanly, quickly came to his feet and fired the ball to first base for the first out of the bottom half of that inning.

The Pirates scored twice in the second off a run-scoring single each from Kuykendall and Dallen Forsythe. Tate Rector got things going with a leadoff double to left-center, before coming home on Kuykendall's single.

Dale finally broke the game open in the fourth with eight runs off seven hits.

The highlights of the fourth were a Kukendall run-scoring single up the middle and an RBI double each from Shirey, Carson Hunt and Cade McQuain. Shirey later picked up his second hit and RBI of the inning off a bloop-single to right.

Dale 17, Walters 1 (5 innings)

Shirey and JB Leaver combined for a five-hitter.

Shirey pitched the first two innings and allowed no runs off two hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Leaver worked the f

The Pirates pounded out 12 hits of their own with Shirey, McQuain, Cole Capps and Cade Capps collecting two apiece.

Dale tallied two in the first inning after Shirey and Dallen Forsythe drew back-to-back leadoff walks. McQuain then hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Shirey. Forsythe later scored off a wild pitch to make it 2-0.

Then a nine-run, seven-hit second inning got the Pirates cruising.

McQuain's two-run double to right field was a highlight along with a run-scoring single each from Cole Capps and Rector. Kuykendall also launched a sacrifice fly to right and later picked up another RBI on a 6-3 groundout.

Two of Walters' three errors helped lead to two more Dale scores in the third to make it 13-0.

The Pirates then upped the count to 16-0 with three more runs in the fourth inning off McQuain's two-run single and Cole Capps' sacrifice fly to center.

Hunt's RBI double to center scored Dallen Forsythe for Dale's final tally of the game in the top of the fifth.

Walters finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth off an RBI single, but it was too little, too late.