After walking the first two Ponderosa batters of the season-opener on Thursday, Lewis-Palmer senior right-hander Jason Shugar received a visit from Rangers head coach Brett Lester.
“Coach talked to me, and I settled down,” said Shugar, who has signed his national letter of intent with the Air Force Academy.
When the game resumed, catcher Carson Trumpold picked off the runner at first base, and then Shugar retired the next two batters to get out of the inning unscathed. Six innings later, Shugar ended his brilliant afternoon by tossing the first no-hitter of his high school career during a 5-0 Lewis-Palmer home victory.
“I’m ecstatic,” Shugar said after the game. “This is a great way to start the season.”
Shugar was dominant against the Mustangs, striking out a career-high 13 batters while walking three in seven innings of work. He threw 94 pitches.
“I felt great out there,” Shugar said. “I got stronger as the game went along.”
Using his 91 mph fastball, Shugar sliced and diced his way through the Ponderosa batting order. The closest thing the Mustangs had to a base knock occurred in the fourth inning when a sinking line drive was hit to the outfield. But Rangers center fielder Johnny Behm got a great read on the ball and made a diving catch.
Shugar said he used his fastball 70 percent of the time. He mixed in his curveball and slider to keep the Mustangs off-balance.
While Thursday’s performance was his first no-hitter with Lewis-Palmer, this was the second time in eight months Shugar has accomplished the feat. July 27, while pitching for his club team the Cage Rats, he tossed a no-no in Arizona.
“Just after that game, I got an offer from Air Force,” Shugar said.
In Thursday’s game against Ponderosa, Shugar got all the offensive support he needed in the first inning when the Rangers scored three runs. Evan Walsh, batting second, got things going with a triple.
Lewis-Palmer managed just four hits in the game.
Shugar batted cleanup and went 0-for-3 and reached base on an error.
“I wasn’t too worried about my hitting today,” Shugar said, smiling.
Lester said he had no reservations leaving Shugar in the game to finish what he started.
“He had a few 100-pitch bullpen sessions so I knew he was strong,” Lester said.
“A game like this sets the tone for the year.”
Shugar is a three-year starter for the Rangers. Last season, he was 6-2 with a 4.23 ERA. As a sophomore, he was 5-2 with a 3.85 ERA.