AUBURN — Just like that, Janek Luksza’s no-hitter was broken up.

With one out remaining in the late-season contest between two zone leaders, Pastime and Bessey Motors, Luksza threw a 0-1 pitch to second baseman Evan Cox. The swing sent the ball to the shortstop’s right, forcing him to slide and make a tough throw to first that came up short. 

In the end, the hit didn’t matter as Bessey wrapped up a 5-0 win over the visiting Pastime, putting the two teams even in the standings and giving Bessey the two-win tiebreaker over the Lewiston-based team.

“Rogers came in and swept us on Tuesday and that kind of woke us up a bit,” Bessey Motors manager Shane Slicer said. “The spark is back and I can’t say enough about what Janek did … That’s a good baseball team we just beat and he shut them down pretty much single-handedly himself.”

Shut them down he did. Luksza gave up just two hits — back-to-back in seventh inning after sitting down the previous 19 batters consecutively, allowing just one walk and a hit batter. Luszka knew he had it going even prior to the first pitch.

“When I was warming up I felt good because I haven’t thrown much, I had a break, so my arm felt pretty good,” Luksza said. “Our defense is just outstanding to make every play. It tells me I can just go and throw strikes.”

That confidence in the defense behind him was well-earned in the third. It is said that every no-hitter needs to have an outstanding play in the field, and that play came from right fielder Kaden Cutler. After falling behind in a 2-1 count, Luksza’s offering flew into short-right field, where Cutler made an outstanding diving play to start the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, Luksza helped his own cause by hitting a single and later stealing second. After being moved to third on two walks, a sacrifice fly from third baseman Emery Chickering pushed in Luksza, and that ended up being all he needed to close the deal.

“I thought our execution was good,” Slicer said. “When we needed to get some runs, we did.”

Pastime was shut down in the fourth and fifth innings. In the bottom of the fifth, Bessey found its bats.

After a leadoff strikeout, shortstop Brayden Bean was walked and stole second. Bean was hit home on a single by Chickering that also moved Cutler to third base. Next came the suicide squeeze from Troy Johnson that scored Cutler, followed by a RBI single by Wyatt Williamson, making the Bessey lead four runs.

In the sixth, Pastime hit the ball hard, but couldn’t find an opening through Bessey’s defense.

“The first time through the order, he did a good job of keeping us off balance,” Pastime manager Jake Brown said. “The third time through I thought we hit the ball really hard but the ball just finds them at this place. That’s just baseball for you … Mentally, we were there the whole time, that’s something good we have to take.”

Luksza got on base again after being hit in the shoulder by a pitch. A passed ball on a throw to first got Luksza all the way to third, then a sacrifice fly by first baseman Ashton Kennison made the game 5-0.

After two quick outs in the seventh, Luksza gave up his first hit, followed by another hit, by Hunter Landry, which made two runners in scoring position. Unfazed, Luksza sat down the the next batter and Bessey took home its 13th win of the season.

Slicer and the team did not want to jinx the great performance by their pitcher, so they left Luksza alone throughout the game.

“Nope, no one said a word. Not a word,” Slicer said. “I looked at one of my assistants after he had two outs and just gave him a wink, maybe that was a bad curse … They gave him a standing ovation, but it’s taboo to talk about that while it’s happening.”

“They were just letting me go,” Luksza said with a smile. “They knew what was going on.”

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