BUCKSPORT — Pitching in his biggest game yet, Jake Guty was unhittable — literally.
Guty, the No. 1 starter for the Bucksport baseball team, has routinely made opposing batters look silly throughout the 2021 season. Double-digit strikeout totals have become the norm for the staff ace, who has been one of the driving forces behind the red-hot Golden Bucks’ push toward a regional title.
“I’m just having a great year,” Guty said. “Our team has great chemistry and communication, and it’s great being out back here in front of these fans. I want to do my best for them.”
Although Guty has certainly done that all season long, none of his previous efforts could top what he did Thursday evening. With a berth in the regional semifinals on the line, the senior pitcher delivered his magnum opus as his team continued its roll through the Class C North field.
Guty threw a no-hitter and recorded 18 strikeouts to lead the Bucksport baseball team to a 7-0 win over George Stevens Academy in Thursday’s home Northern Maine quarterfinal contest. The result came as Guty fanned the first 11 batters he faced and allowed just one walk as the Golden Bucks won their 10th consecutive game.
After Guty struck out the side in the top of the first inning, the second-ranked Golden Bucks scored three runs in the bottom of the frame to give their pitcher an early cushion. Guty then struck out all three batters again in the second and third to maintain his perfect start entering the middle inning.
“My slider was going off, and I was able to hit my spots really well with my two-seam,” Guty said. “When I would get to an 0-2 count, I just went breaking ball and finished them off.”
Bucksport doubled its lead in the bottom of the third after scoring on a well-executed double steal, a sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded walk. Tenth-ranked GSA (8-10) ended Guty’s strikeout streak in the top of the fourth with an inning-ending groundout before an RBI single from Ty Giberson in the bottom half gave the Golden Bucks their seventh run.
Guty struck out two more batters in the fifth inning before losing his perfect game on a walk to begin the sixth. Yet that proved to be the only blemish on an otherwise immaculate day for Guty, who struck out five of the last six batters he faced to complete the no-hitter and send Bucksport (15-2) to the semifinals.
Arguably the only sign of danger for Guty all day came with no outs in the top of the seventh inning as GSA’s Jonah Reay hit a hard grounder toward the left side. Yet although the ball initially appeared as if it might squeeze through to the outfield, Giberson was able to field it cleanly at shortstop and throw to first for the out.
“As a pitcher, you try not to think about [the no-hitter], but that last groundball was still pretty nerve-wracking because I knew in the back of my mind that I had one going,” Guty said. “It makes it a lot easier when you have a defense behind you that can make those plays and an offense that can get you some runs.”
The effort was the second strong showing against GSA this season for Guty, who had struck out 16 batters and allowed just two hits in an 8-0 win against the Eagles on May 20. The senior’s other showings this season included a 13-strikeout two-hitter April 27 against Mount Desert Island, a 14-strikeout game May 25 against Central and an 11-strikeout one-hitter June 1 against Washington Academy.
“Getting up there in that 13- or 14-strikeout range is normal for him,” said Bucksport head coach Mike Cowing. “He’s special, and when he gets going, you’ve got a chance against anyone. It’s fun to watch.”
Originally, Cowing had aimed to keep Guty under 95 pitches to allow him proper rest time ahead of a potential Class C North championship game. Yet after Cowing realized that there were four days, not three, in between Thursday’s contest and the upcoming Northern Maine final, he allowed Guty to power through the final inning.
“I was pretty disappointed [that I might be cut off], but then he told me he counted wrong and that I could go back out there, so that’s what I did,” Guty said. “I knew I had to finish the job, and I was able to get the last three outs.”
Bucksport will be back at home at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 12, to take on No. 6 Washington Academy (12-5). The winner will play for the Northern Maine title Tuesday, June 15, at the University of Maine.
Giberson, who has also excelled on the mound this season, is set to pitch the regional semifinal game for Bucksport. Should the Golden Bucks top Washington Academy, Guty would be set to take the mound against either top-ranked Orono or No. 4 Mattanawcook Academy in the Class C North title game.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that,” Guty said. “It’s all coming together for us when it matters, and we want to keep riding this streak and play for a state championship.”