CEDAR FALLS — The high fastball was swung on and missed for a strikeout.
Cedar Falls freshman Zachary Neese walked off the mound like he’d thrown a lot of no-hitters before.
In fact, Neese’s first career no-hitter lifted the Tigers to an 8-0 victory over Waterloo East Tuesday at Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex and helped snap a four-game losing streak.
“I just really worked on keep the ball down in the zone and that helped me tonight,” Neese said. “I felt pretty good. I didn’t feel any pressure.”
Needing only 83 pitches, Neese struck out seven, hit a batter and walked two, including one in the seventh after he had retired 11 consecutive batters.
Neese said he was aware of what he was doing, and it really became evident when his teammates stopped talking to him.
“Around the fifth and sixth inning they all started leaving me alone and not saying anything to me,” Neese smiled. “It was cool.”
None of East’s baserunners advanced past first with Xander Bauler’s fly out to left-center in the sixth the hardest hit ball off Neese, who improved to 2-1.
“Part of it, we know it is just one game,” Cedar Falls head coach Nick Klein said of the low-key celebration after the game. “It does feel good. We’ve had some rough ones.
“Zach started the year off real well, had some struggles and made some minor tweaks last week, and we wanted to see him this week and he did a great job of filling up the strike zone.”
Cedar Falls (7-9) managed only seven hits off East pitchers McNamara and Cameron Berinobis, but the Tigers manufactured several runs early to take the lead.
With two outs in the second, Conner Gerdes walked, Luke Anhalt singled and Gerdes scored on an error on the play. Jack Steffener made it 2-0 when he singled to right.
Casey Sole had an RBI ground out in the second, and Conrad Burke hit a one-out triple in the fifth and scored on a Tate Johnson single that made it 4-0. The Tigers scored four unearned runs in the sixth when the Trojans committed three errors.
“Part of that is last night we saw two really good pitchers against Prairie, one is an 86-88 mph guy, and so trying to adjust coming off that was difficult,” Klein said. “The other part of that is just too much in our heads. We need to relax and play the game.”
East (1-17) had some positives that head coach Garrett Ramsey said his team could build on.
“Not a lot of offense tonight, but it could’ve been a different story had we got the bats going,” Ramsey said. “Our two pitchers did what they needed to do — kept the ball game within reach — so it is definitely something where we can take the positives and roll with them.”
The two teams will have a rematch Thursday at East with a 5:30 p.m. varsity start.
Cedar Falls 8, East 0
Wat. East 000 000 0 — 0 0 4
Cedar Falls 021 014 x — 8 7 0
Braeden McNamara, Cameron Berinobis and Mitchell Sage. Zachary Neese and Cael Loecher. WP — Neese (2-1). LP — McNamara (0-3). 3B — Conrad Burke (CF).