Hingst's no-hitter brings emotions, memories to teammates, fans and family

Looking back at the 10th no-hitter in ASU baseball program history from the different perspectives of those who were a part of it

ASU baseball sophomore right-hander Ryan Hingst took the mound for his first start of the year on Friday, March 25. Nine innings, 30 batters and 121 pitches later, he had recorded the 10th no-hitter in program history, and the first since Ryan Kellogg's in 2013.

Hingst also struck out nine batters while walking just three en route to the team's first conference win of the season. 

From a pitcher's perspective, perhaps the most impressive detail of the night is that he relied mostly on one pitch: his fastball. Hingst said he was relegated to using that fastball after he and junior catcher Brian Serven saw that his off-speed stuff wasn't up to par that night. 

"We just kind of tried to stay with the approach we'd talked about before the game, which was attacking them with fastballs and being aggressive in the zone," Hingst said. 

Serven and head coach Tracy Smith both praised Hingst for locating the fastball up, down, in and out so consistently throughout, which ultimately earned Hingst Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honors. 

"I think anytime you can go out and have a performance like that with basically one pitch is impressive," Smith said. "I was very, very pleased with what he did that night."

Hingst, who started four games in 2015, said he had been getting tired by the fourth inning of long relief outings throughout the first part of this year. 

That wasn't the case on this night. 

"During the middle innings during (the no-hitter), I could tell that my velocity was starting to drop a little bit," Hingst said, "I think once it kind of kicked in that I was throwing that no-hitter, the adrenaline spiked up again. I kind of forgot about it."

He also said the last three innings were a blur. So was Utah's lineup. 

"I couldn't even tell you the names of (Utah's batters)," Hingst said. "I could recognize maybe some batting stances or something, but I didn't even think of names of where I was in the order. I'd be facing a batter and I'd remember earlier in the game, 'Okay, that guy with that batting stance, I beat him him with the fastball in. I'll try to do that again.'" 

Additionally, Hingst said pitching coach Brandon Higelin talked to him every half inning in the dugout until the fifth, when he stopped veering over to the righty. It was a sign of the superstition of baseball — the entire team let Hingst sit there and focus. 

Dazzling gloves keep the no-no alive

There seem to be one or two key defensive plays remembered during every no-hitter because they helped preserve it. On that night, there were two. 

Hingst recalled a second-inning ground ball up the middle that tipped off his glove, but sophomore second baseman Andrew Snow made a great play on it. He credited Snow, even though a no-hitter hadn't even crossed his mind at that point.

The more noteworthy of the two was made by sophomore center fielder Andrew Shaps, who made a running catch on a ball that jumped off the bat in the eighth inning. It brought sighs of relief from the crowd, ASU's dugout and Hingst.

In the moment, that play was special to everyone but Shaps, who didn't even remember what inning it occurred in when asked about it. He also wasn't aware of another key factor in the situation. 

"Honestly, I didn't know it was a no-hitter," Shaps said. "I swear ... I don't know how I was able to go eight innings without knowing that.

"The first thought in my head was, 'That ball looks far away, and it's going to be a for sure double.' I thought I was going to have to dive for it, but I didn't. I was playing shallow. When I was running for that ball, I did not know it was a no-hitter. ... I was actually bracing myself to dive, and I just never had to. I don't know if the wind stopped it, or held it up, or what."

Hingst added, "I thought for sure that was a double in the gap right off the bat. I was like, 'Dang it. Made it eight innings so far I guess this is where it ends.' Every single no-hitter or perfect game that you watch in the MLB, there's always some great play. I think that was just that play that really defined it and was one of those great defensive plays that saved it." 

Junior pitcher Seth Martinez, who pitched a solid outing the night before, was watching the game unfold from the dugout. 

He said he realized there was a no-hitter in the fourth or fifth inning, but he got a strange feeling in the sixth, which was when he swears he knew it was going to happen. 

It was a sort of palpable energy in the dugout. 

"It was super weird, I've never had that feeling happen to me before," Martinez said. "Eighth inning comes around and our dugout is exploding after every out. ... You can feel everybody pulling for Hingst and wanting him to get that no-hitter. It was the coolest thing I've ever seen." 

Martinez said everyone started to look at each other and know what one another was thinking as the number of outs needed dwindled down. 

Then the ninth inning came

Everyone in both dugouts knew what was at stake, and a season-high 3,463 fans were on their feet at Phoenix Municipal Stadium ready to witness another feat for a program that is historically one of the best in the country — a five-time NCAA championship winner.

Hingst said he could feel that energy and loud noise in the stadium for a brief moment as he jogged out to the mound to record the final three outs.

"Once I stepped between those lines, everything kind of muted out," he said. "It was just me and Brian (Serven). I just kept on trying to do the same thing I was doing."

Everyone else felt the pressure for him. 

"I was probably more nervous than Hingst," Martinez joked. "Once the crowd stood up and they were all clapping, it was crazy. You couldn't help but just smile at what was happening."

With two outs, Shaps caught a fly ball that was much easier than the one he tracked down in the eighth. It was over. 

Pandemonium broke among the crowd and the celebration on the field began. 

"I just gave Brian (Serven) a big old hug and after that, everything was just a blur," Hingst said. "A lot of pushing, a lot of hugs, a lot of water being thrown on my face. It was just a whole mess of emotions just kind of blurred into one."

After the game, Hingst called his parents, who were watching the live stream of the game online while they attended an Easter egg coloring party. 

His mom did not pick up the phone at first, so he called his dad, David, who answered. 

"(Ryan) was pretty excited, I could hear the noise in the background," his father said. "There's a definite sense of pride (as a parent). He's worked hard for everything he's gotten there.

"At first, it was just my wife and I watching. As the innings progressed, there was a bigger and bigger crowd around that laptop."

A rare gem

One of the reasons no-hitters are some of the most — if not the most — revered feats in sports is because everyone who is involved will remember it, appreciate it and be grateful they were a part of it. 

It's no different here. 

"It's definitely the coolest thing I've ever been a part of," said Serven, who threw a no-hitter himself in high school. 

Hingst's no-hitter was the first Smith has been a part of as a coach. Not only was it cool to witness, but Smith called it a bit of an "ignition" for the home fans because the team hadn't been playing too well of late. 

"It's a rare thing and you want to be a part of it," Smith said. "To have a chance that deep was fun — not just for the players, but for me personally as a coach. But I think the fans enjoyed it."

Hingst still has a lot of room to grow. In his next start at Washington State, he gave up four runs in three innings. Smith said the focus now will be improving the off-speed stuff so he doesn't have to rely on locating a fastball consistently, which can be difficult. 

He said he still thinks about that night a lot, and understandably so. Hingst has now joined the ranks with only nine other pitchers in the program's illustrious history. 

"I don't really know if I can put it in perspective," he said. "I just feel honored to be mentioned in the same category as those guys."

Reach the reporter at Justin.Toscano@asu.edu or on Twitter @justintoscano3.

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