Koontz Tosses 1st No-hitter in Oaks History

ABOVE: Adam Koontz in action.  BELOW: Shortstop Chris Mazza makes a bare-handed pickup.  PHOTOS: OCCIDENTAL ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT

The closer one is to making history, the harder it becomes to achieve it. Realization alone grips too tight, shaking the foundation that turns the dream of every pitcher into an achievable reality for a special few. Each pitch is a battle between the effortless explosion of forward motion and the mind which sends the wrong signal to the wrong muscle at the wrong time. And right there, on the brink of immortality, is when one of the most elusive of baseball's fluky perfections ends with a base hit.

Oaks junior Adam Koontz won his battle with greatness, however, throwing the first no-hitter in modern Menlo College baseball history on April 20 in a 15-0 victory at Occidental College. The junior right-hander powered his way to the seven-inning no-no to put a near-perfect finishing touch on a spectacular first season as an Oak.

Koontz was in fine form entering his epic performance against the Tigers, who managed just three base runners in the game. After Occidental's first batter of the game reached on an error, Koontz allowed just two batters to reach base the rest of the way on leadoff walks in the fourth and sixth innings. Seven of the 21 outs Koontz recorded came via strikeout while—as is the case in every no-hitter—one special defensive play saved the no-hit bid when sophomore shortstop Chris Mazza ranged across the infield grass to make a bare-handed pickup and throw to first for an out.

While unexpected, Koontz' no-hitter came during a dominant stretch to end the season. Over his last six appearances —all starts—Koontz posted a 5-0 record with a 1.83 earned run average in 39.2 innings pitched. Opponents managed just eight earned runs on 25 hits during the stretch while Koontz struck out 32 and walked 15. In his previous outing, Koontz had pitched a complete-game shutout against No. 2 Chapman.

On the season, Koontz had a 3.25 ERA and a 2.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He is just the third Menlo pitcher to win eight games in a season and moves into the top 10 in ERA, innings pitched and strikeouts.

(Photos – ABOVE: Adam Koontz in action. BELOW: Shortstop Chris Mazza makes a bare-handed pickup. PHOTOS: OCCIDENTAL ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT)

Not to be outdone, senior Brian Priestley also had a stellar campaign on the mound. The lanky left-hander posted a 5-4 record that tough luck hindered, but led Oaks starters with a 3.13 ERA, 83.1 innings pitched, and four complete games. Priestley ranks in the top 10 in four Oaks single-season records and five career records.

Opponents combined to hit just .246 against Priestley and Koontz on the season as Menlo finished 22-15. It was the Oaks third-best win total and winning percentage since Menlo College became a four-year institution in 1986.