Middleton's Felton hurls no-hitter

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MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s Reese Felton threw a no-hitter against Verona Friday night./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld


Reese Felton has spent the last several seasons as a closer.

That’s what happens when you can throw a baseball 85 miles per hour.

Last Friday, though, Felton started, finished, and dominated in between against Verona.

And when Felton’s 136-pitch night had ended, Middleton’s senior right hander had accomplished something most pitchers can only dream of.

Felton threw the first no-hitter of his life and powered the Cardinals to an 8-1 win over the Wildcats at Middleton High School.

Felton’s big night came on the eve of his 18th birthday.

“A teammate of mine mentioned it in the second inning, which we all know we’re not supposed to do,” Felton said of the no-hitter. “But I didn't really take him or the possibility of the no hitter seriously until the sixth inning.

“It only became hard to stay focused at the end of the seventh inning when we had two outs. I just wanted to get the last one.”

Felton had one of the more unusual pitching lines you’ll ever see associated with a no-hitter. Felton struck out nine, walked nine and allowed one unearned run.

Felton began tiring late, especially after throwing 64 pitches in the final two innings alone. Middleton manager Tom Schmitt thought long and hard about taking Felton out, but stuck with him.

That decision led to a memorable ending after Felton recorded the final out on a fielder’s choice.

“I had said this was going to be his last batter,” said Schmitt, whose team is 9-4 overall and 7-4 in the Big Eight Conference. “That’s a lot of pitches, but I wanted to give him a chance to finish it.”

Felton was in control throughout.

He struck out the side in the first inning and allowed just three base runners — all on walks — through five innings. Verona had three line drives that could have been hits. But two went right to second baseman Luke Schafer and the third went to directly to shortstop Brian Lochner.

As the game progressed, Felton’s arm tired and he struggled with his control In fact, six of his nine walks came in the last two frames alone.

“My arm was getting less accurate just due to the fact I don't normally pitch that many innings,” Felton said. “My teammates were cheering me on and we have an outstanding defense, so I was confident they believed I could pull it off.”

Schmitt said there was another factor, though, in Felton’s late walks.

“The strike zone was floating and it was small,” Schmitt said. “That’s a tough way to pitch.”

But Felton was up for it.

He worked out of a jam in the sixth. And although Verona scored an unearned run in the seventh, it couldn't manage a hit.

“He was overpowering,” Schmitt said. “He had a good live fastball that was breaking late.”

Felton had plenty of offensive support, too.

Middleton, which was the visiting team in the second game of this doubleheader, struck for four runs in the second inning. Schafer had an RBI single and Lochner had a two-run triple during the frame.

It stayed that way until the seventh inning, when the Cardinals added four more runs. Kenji Passini had an RBI single, Schafer had a run-scoring groundout and Jackson Keeler had a two-run single.

But the story of the night was Felton.

“I was excited and very happy to have accomplished something only a few pitchers get to do,” said Felton, who will play football at UW-La Crosse beginning this fall. “It was important for me to have the support of my team in reaching this goal.”

Middleton played three other games last week, as well.

• Verona 7, Middleton 2 — The Wildcats scored five runs in the sixth to pull away in the opener of a doubleheader Friday night. Luke Schafer took the loss for the Cardinals.

“That’s why we really needed the second one,” Schmitt said. “We were kind of kicking dirt thinking what the heck are we doing? But Reese helped us bounce back.”
• Middleton 11, Madison West 4 — Kasey Miller went 4-for-4 and the Cardinals rolled past the Regents last Tuesday. Garrett Knutson worked five solid innings and earned the win.

“He’s got pretty good stuff,” Schmitt said of Knutson. “He’s a pitch-to-contact kind of pitcher. He’s a three-pitch pitcher. He keeps it down and gets a lot of ground balls. The biggest thing is he throws strikes.”

Miller had a two-run single in the first inning as the Cardinals jumped to a 3-0 lead. Lochner had a sacrifice fly and Miller added a run-scoring single in the second as Middleton moved ahead, 5-1.

Passini had a run-scoring triple in the fifth, and later scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-1. And with Middleton leading, 8-3, in the seventh, the Cardinals added three runs thanks to four walks and a hit batter.

“They beat us in 10 innings the first go-around,” Schmitt said of West. “But we played better ball this time. We still had too many errors (four), but we turned two double plays.”

• Middleton 7, Madison East 5 — Lochner and Miller both had two hits and Knutson notched his second win of the week as the Cardinals downed the Purgolders last Saturday.

Middleton led, 2-1, in the fifth when Tanner Meinholz had a two-run double to help make it 5-1. Lochner provided insurance runs with a two-run triple in the sixth.

“We’ve played some good games, but we’re just inconsistent right now,” Schmitt said. “There’s still a lot of questions with the bottom half of the lineup and we’re still trying to figure out the corner outfield spots. Hopefully we can get those squared away.”

• On deck: Middleton was at Janesville Parker Wednesday, then hosts Janesville Craig Thursday at 5 p.m. The Cardinals are Madison East Monday at 5 p.m., and travel to Madison la Follette for a doubleheader Tuesday at 5 p.m.

On Sunday, Schmitt heads to the WIAA Division 1 postseason seeding meeting. Playoffs begin on May 28, but four of the 12 teams receive first round byes and won't play until May 30.

“I think we should get a bye,” Schmitt said. “We still have to go play a good week of baseball first.”


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