At Nashville High School, Kevin Crask once served as the catcher for future major leaguer Kirk Rueter.
As the baseball coach at Central High, he coached Florida State University pitcher and major league draft pick Bryant Holtmann and as a college player he was on the same Southern Illinois University Edwardsville club as current Saint Louis University coach Darin Hendrickson.
Those are some impressive baseball memories, but Crask would be hard pressed to top what he and the Cougars experienced last week when pitchers Dylan Wilson and Carter Truong tossed back-to-back no-hitters on consecutive days.
“It’s a little bit surreal and people are still asking about it,” said Crask, whose 10-0 team tops the Belleville News-Democrat Small-School Rankings. “We enjoyed it and it was neat to watch, but it’s still hard to believe it happened. The pitchers just went out and did their job.”
“I thought it was pretty cool that USA Today got hold of it,” said Truong, a senior pitcher-outfielder headed to Elmhurst University.
Wilson, a junior left-hander, began the no-hit adventure last Monday by striking out 14 Highland batters and walking one in a 1-0 victory. Central got the only run it needed on an RBI single by Bryce Harre in the fifth inning.
Crask said Wilson throws “deceivingly hard. It doesn’t look like he has a lot of stuff on it, but batters have trouble. He’s one of those rare pitchers that will throw it on the inside, and he can control that pitch.”
Truong faced Centralia the next day and admitted the Cougars had joked around about another no-hitter after Wilson’s gem.
“It’s always a thought, like ‘What if we could do this again?” Truong said. “But for it to actually happen, it’s pretty special. I wanted to try to follow him up, but it’s hard to compete with that. I just went in having that mentality and it ended up working out.”
Truong faced the minimum 21 batters, striking out 12 in an 8-0 victory over the Orphans. He came within one Central error of tossing a perfect game.
“I don’t really think there was more pressure on me,” Truong said. “I think it was more just trying to show what I can do, too.”
The common thread to both no-hitters was each were saved by excellent defensive plays by senior left fielder Dalton Wise. Wise had a diving catch in the second game and a long running catch in the first to take away potential hits.
The Cougars nearly made it three no-hitters in three days, which might have defied all odds, but Greenville scratched out an early bunt single that limited Central senior lefty Jack Strieker to a one-hitter in a 9-1 victory.
“It was a sacrifice bunt that kind of snuck through down the third-base line,” Crask said. “It was a tremendous bunt early in the game.”