To throw a no-hitter in baseball is very rare. For a nine-year-old to throw one is still more rare.
That’s exactly what happened though, when Marshall Lemons of the Rohnert Park: 9U Blue team threw 42 pitches against the Tracy team at Benicia Park Saturday to win Rohnert Park’s first game of the 2018 Cal Ripken Northern California 9U State Tournament.
“It was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from a youth athlete,” said Erik Tucker, the Rohnert Park: 9U Blue head coach. “The pitch limit is 75 for the league and the little guy got through a whole game in 42 pitches.”
Indeed, the Blue’s performance against Tracy was such that it ended the game early with a shutout in the bottom of the sixth inning at a score of 7-0. The win secured the Blue’s movement forward. They faced off next on the 1st of July against Elk Grove: Gold in a game which they won with a score of 12-6.
“Our boys are ready. They’re focused and they’re pumped and they’re excited,” Tucker said. “It’s a great environment that we’re able to create for not only our team, but for all the others that are here. It’s playoff baseball at its finest, and we’re excited to be able to host the tournament.”
14 teams compete from all across Northern California for the honor of taking home the championship title. It’s uncommon that Cal Ripken elevates a small town like Rohnert Park to get the honor of hosting.
“For the Nines to have a state tournament out here is a huge deal,” said Jessica Cummings, mother of Rohnert Park: 9U Blue catcher, Gauge Cummings. “When we go to Elk Grove they have sports complexes with four fields. In Rohnert Park we don’t have that. There were parents out here for weeks and weeks prepping—this was a softball field. It took a lot of work to get dialed in, but our community did it. It looks so good compared to what it was.”
And the tournament wasn’t treated like a small deal. There was a tent selling burgers and snacks, and another selling t-shirts and still another offering games with prizes. All-together, the gathering carried the air of a state fair, with people from all across California arriving to watch their boys compete.
“I grew up here in town,” said Jim Lemons, father of Marshall Lemons. “I played baseball and I love baseball and my son loves baseball. I’d rather be on the field than in the stands watching. It’s a fun atmosphere and it’s great just being around your own kid.”
Though the tournament is serious, victory isn’t the only goal,
“They’re competitive here but afterwards they’re all buddies. They just hang out and enjoy the day,” Lemons continued.
The Rohnert Park Cal Ripken 9U Tournament continues at Benicia Park until Saturday, July 7. The other game for Rohnert Park: 9U Blue was against Oakland Tuesday, July 3.