By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Cody Winter was moving right along, pitching a gem in a game at Sissonville, when someone violated one of baseball’s unwritten rules.
The senior right-hander had taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning when one of his teammates mentioned the scenario. The whole thing quickly unraveled. Winter lost the no-hit bid and Valley lost the game 6-4.
Last Wednesday, no one said a thing to Arik McGinnis.
Pitching against Buffalo, McGinnis turned in the performance of his young life. He not only saw a no-hitter to completion but also struck out 19 in an 11-0 win.
“It was a great feeling,” said McGinnis, who had not thrown a no-hitter since his days in the Upper Kanawha Valley Little League. “I just got into a groove early and stayed in it.”
An airplane carrying a banner proclaiming “Arik McGinnis has a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings” could have flown overhead and it would not have mattered. Nothing could jinx him on this night.
McGinnis, the son of Valley assistant coach John McGinnis, went almost exclusively with his fastball, estimating that he threw fewer than five curveballs the entire game. After walking the leadoff hitter, he struck out 11 consecutive batters.
“My fastball was working. They were not hitting it or even getting the bat on the ball,” McGinnis said.
The Greyhounds could have rested their outfield and been OK. The Bison put two balls into play, a pair of grounders to freshman shortstop Druw Bowen. One was hit sharply and the other took a big hop over McGinnis’ head, but Bowen fielded and threw on the run for the out.
“When you have something like that going on, when you can hit your spots, it just feels like nobody can touch you,” McGinnis said. “I went with my best pitch and kept riding it.”
Coach Joe Craffey said it was the best pitching performance he has seen as a coach.
“I had seen no-hitters before, but not with multiple strikeouts like that,” Craffey said. “He was in control the whole night, other than his walks.”
That was McGinnis’ only flaw. He walked four batters and has allowed 21 bases on balls in 31 innings pitched this season.
His pitching numbers for the season do nothing to amaze, at least not at first glance. He is 2-3 with a 3.61 earned run average and has given up 25 hits. But that does come with a caveat.
“Look at the three games he has lost,” Craffey said. “He lost to George Washington, which is a pretty good triple-A school, and Greenbrier East, another good triple-A. Then Magnolia beat us 5-2. He had 10 strikeouts that day, but we made an error that led to them scoring two crucial runs.
“His pitching record is not indicative of how well he has pitched for us.”
His stats at the plate tell a more accurate story. McGinnis is hitting .466 with four home runs, 11 doubles, three triples and 34 runs batted in. He has scored 36 runs in 22 games and has a 1.430 OPS.
McGinnis, who will likely play college baseball at West Virginia Wesleyan, is one of seven players hitting .405 or better — the Greyhounds are batting .415 as a team.
“Last year we had a great team, but this year we are absolutely crushing the ball,” said McGinnis, who had a double and triple as part of Valley’s 13-hit attack against Buffalo.
Valley (18-5) has won seven straight and 10 of its last 11. The Greyhounds will close out the regular season with road games at Nicholas County Tuesday and Charleston Catholic Friday before starting sectional play next week.
— E-mail: gfauber@