ASHLAND -- The Fulton Hornets' Dusty Hagens tossed a no-hitter (threw 75 pitches, 43 strikes) while striking out eight and walking two in six innings en route to winning the Fulton Tournament for the fourth "confirmed" time.
"That's my second one in my career; I think I threw one my sophomore year," Hagens said. "Just our team coming out and me not having to throw the whole tournament championship game really helped. Not flying through all our pitchers, so I gotta pitch this game. That's just awesome for our pitching staff, and I thought I threw well. But our bats were alive, considering the score."
In a matchup between two teams on a hot stretch, as the weather heats up, Fulton was the one who remained dominant, taking down the Eldon Mustangs 15-0 in a six-inning rule-rule to win its tournament championship Saturday at Southern Boone High School.
Not only did the Hornets have a dominant performance by their ace on the bump, but they also had their bats and fielders getting the job done.
Fulton scored in all but one frame; even in the one it didn't, the Hornets had the bases loaded with two outs.
To load the bases in the first, Ethan Burt roped a one-out double to the gap in deep right-center, Walker Gohring singled to shallow right and Tyler Arthur received a free pass on a full count -- those three reached in back-to-back-to-back plate appearances.
Unfortunately for Fulton, Eldon's Jacob Bishop struck out the next hitter before forcing a groundout to end the top of the first.
Hagens took the mound in the bottom half of the first and had his stuff going from the get-go, sending the Mustangs down 1-2-3 while punching out two.
After Hagens sent Eldon down in order for the first time, Fulton plated its first three runs in the second.
Bishop walked the Hornets' Justin Case to lead off the inning, and Fulton boys soccer standout Luke Holland pinch-ran for the team's catcher.
That move paid off, as Holland scored Fulton's first on a wild pitch four batters later.
The Hornets plated another during the next at-bat when Burt swiped second. Eldon's catcher made an overthrow to the second, sending Gabe DeFily home and Burt to third.
In the same plate appearance, Fulton tacked on another run, with Gohring recording the team's first RBI on his single as he beat the throw from short.
Baserunning would also be critical in the Hornets tallying their lone run in the third.
Eldon's Bishop walked Hagens to start the inning.
The Mustangs pulled their starter following that, but as the score showed, it didn't matter who Eldon put on the bump -- Fulton found ways to send baserunners across regardless.
Another pinch runner scored for the Hornets: Gage Baker made it home on Case's sacrifice fly to left.
Fulton led 4-0 after three, and the Hornets notched their second straight one-run frame in the fourth.
Burt recorded the Hornets' first hit in the fourth with a one-out single, then Gohring made it back-to-back base hits, plating Fulton's No. 2 on his single up the middle in his final at-bat.
Gohring's RBI single made it 5-0 Fulton. Early on, Gohring was key as he went 3-3 with three singles and a walk while driving in three and scoring once.
"Walker has moved up and down the lineup," Fulton coach Jacob Lorentzen said. "Just kind of depending, and we knew he could hit like this. He had a really slow start. And now that he's hitting his stride, that's going to be perfect for us right at the right time. He's got a lot of confidence right now -- a couple of big two-out hits, things like that earlier -- kind of mid-season, and now he's going into season form. So I'm super excited, right time."
While Gohring guided the Hornets early, the team did it together in the fifth and sixth, totaling 10 runs between the final two innings of the contest.
Fulton had 10 plate appearances in the fifth, with Case being the Hornet to account for two.
Miles Bethell scored Fulton's first run in the fifth, advancing home on a wild pitch with Burt at the dish. The Hornets' DeFily scored when Burt put a ball in play to second, which Eldon's second baseman mishandled.
Two hitters later, Fulton's Arthur kickstarted the first of two straight RBI singles, drilling his to shallow right-center. Then, UMSL commit Hagens helped himself, driving in one for the Hornets while beating Missouri Valley signee Jude Rader's throw from second to reach first.
Hagens showed why he's signed for an NCAA Division II school in the bottom half of the fifth, striking out the side in order on 15 pitches.
Arguments ensued when Hagens punched out future NAIA second baseman Rader on a nasty breaking ball to begin the fifth. Eldon fans were so displeased that one was tossed after exclaiming, "It nearly hit his face!"
Carrying the momentum from Hagens best frame on the bump in his historic outing, Fulton tallied six runs in the sixth -- its most in any inning.
Wyatt Wilfley demolished a bases-clearing two-RBI triple to deep right-center, plating the Hornets' first runs in the sixth.
Next, Fulton's Baker stepped up to the plate for his first at-bat of the year, making the most of it.
On a 2-2 count, Baker smoked a two-run home run, hitting the left field foul pole as the Hornets swarmed the plate when he reached home.
"I don't know if he's got but a handful (of at-bats) in his career, maybe as a freshman," Lorentzen said. "But that's exciting for him. And he literally came and said, 'Put me in coach, I'm going to hit it over the left field fence.' So, he almost did; he hit the pole."
With two outs, another Fulton hitter provided a spark off the bench as future William Woods Owl Jayce Thompson capped the scoring with his two-RBI two-bagger to deep right-center.
Following the six-run sixth where Eldon used three pitchers, the Hornets' Hagens was three outs away from history, and Fulton a frame away from a potential run rule.
For the fifth time in the contest (third straight), Hagens went through the Mustangs in order, getting the final hitter to ground out to short, achieving the no-no.
Throwing a no-hitter requires mental toughness, and Hagens shared how he handled it.
"I think it was honestly just coming out there knowing that I had a defense behind me," Hagens said. "I could throw whatever I wanted, and my defense was there to back me up. I had no worries. No worry about it at all."
Showing Fulton's defense supported Hagens: The Hornets only committed one error to Eldon's four.
Fulton's shortstop and third baseman flipped as Fulton fans were loud and proud of what Hagens and the team had done.
Under first-year coach Lorentzen, the Hornets earned their second championship plaque this season -- and it happened aweek before districts.
"It was a perfect storm for us for the games we got to play," Lorentzen said. "We had outstanding pitching in multiple games, Multiple people, some that went long, some that only threw an inning or two. But that's what we needed at the time, and they did phenomenal. And then I've been saying it all year: When our bats can all get together at the same time, we can be scary all the way through our lineup; pretty strong at-bats."
Fulton (13-7) will play its final home game this season, hosting another Callaway County school having a great campaign in Class 3 receiving votes South Callaway (18-6) at 5 p.m. Monday. The Hornets won the previous two meetings between the teams, with the Bulldogs' last victory coming the season it won the Show-Me Conference before this year -- 2019.
"It's the last game for us, so we're gonna be putting in guys that can get a little playing time," Lorentzen said. "Almost everybody did get on base, so our bench guys are gonna be just fine out there. A little bit more, but it's a game that you just have to keep your momentum going. Neither one of us have strong ties in that game, but you got to keep things rolling for the way we want to by the end of the week for sure."