East County Sports

JoJo delivers a Norsemen no-no



Special to East County Sports.com

RANCHO SAN DIEGO (5-12-2018) – In an effort mirroring Major League Baseball on several fronts, Valhalla High sophomore Joseph “JoJo” Ingrassia struck out 12 batters en route to tossing a no-hitter against visiting West Hills in Friday’s (May 10) 11-0 triumph.

Ingrassia, aided by a diving catch by Norsemen left fielder Cameron Zamudio for the opening out in the seventh inning, became the school’s first pitcher to throw a no-hitter since former MLB pitcher Sean O’Sullivan, who registered a perfect game against Valley Center on Apr. 14, 2003.

In the pros, there have already been three no-hitters in less than six weeks of play, while batters are striking out at a record pace which could shatter the old mark by more than 4,000 whiffs. Ingrassia was able to do both with a career-high in strikeout.

Motivation proved not to be a factor for the Norsemen, which clinched a share of the the Grossmont Valley League pennant with the victory, yet already saddled with a league loss had no chance for a rare undefeated season in the Grossmont Conference.

“We want to stay focused for the CIF playoffs,” said Ingrassia. “So we need to keep working and playing hard.”

Ingrassia’s off-speed pitch seemed to get better as the contest progressed. One Wolf Pack batter reached base on a dropped third strikeout (which counts as a strikeout for the pitcher) in the fourth inning.

Then following Zamudio’s grab, the final two West Hills batters struck out on breaking pitches in the dirt, with the throw going to first base to polish-off the no-hitter.

“Our defense has been there all year,” added the 15-year old pitcher, who has an older sister who was a senior catcher for the Norsemen softball team last season.

Ingrassia needed all of the strikeouts be could muster in the early going, carrying just a 1-0 lead into the fourth. The run came in the second, when Cole Howard accepted a lead walk, Ingrassia put down a one-out sacrifice bunt, then No. 7 hitter Max Hageman delivered a two-out basehit to left field.

The Norsemen (16-11 overall, 12-1 GVL) then collected 10 runs over the final three trips to the plate.

Keys hits featured a 2-run single by Jonah St. Clair in the fourth (advancing to second base on the throw), a two-run single by Ingrassia in the fifth (he was thrown out at second base trying to take an extra base), and consecutive RBI doubles by Ingrassia and Hageman in the sixth.

At the plate, Ingrassia batted 3-for-3 with three RBI and a sac bunt to pace a 13-hit attack. St. Clair and Hageman added two hits each. Howard and Ethan Dunnam scored three times each.

For West Hills (9-17, 5-8 GVL), catcher Greg Plale threw out a runner at third base. Plale also reached base in the fifth on s ground ball which was (correctly) ruled a fielding error. The only hard-hit ball was by Gavin Kondyra but he was robbed by Zamudio.

Since Ingrassia is only in the 10th grade, he has two-plus years remaining to equal the GUHSD conference mark for career no-hitters (2), set by five pitchers – Jeff Byrd, El Capitan (1972-74); Greg Johnson, Valhalla (1977-78); Dave Ciampoli, Helix (1977-78); Scott Adams, Granite Hills (1980-81); and  Jeff Barry, Santana (1984-85).

O’Sullivan, who was drafted in the third round by Anaheim and pitched in the Majors for the Angels, Royals, Padres, Phillies and Red Sox (2009-16), saw his final appearance as an amateur occur as a member of the Barona Stars, which is coached by Mickey Deutschman, who is also the head coach for West Hills.

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