It had been more than a month – 34 days to be exact – since Lake City senior left-handed pitcher Ben Pharis started.
Heck, it had been 34 days since Pharis’ last and only appearance on the mound.
A number of things factored into why Pharis hadn’t pitched. First, Lake City has a deep pitching staff. Second, first-year coach Al Bevacqua was saving Pharis for Friday.
Pharis more than delivered, handcuffing Coeur d’Alene for one hit – and it didn’t even leave the infield – as the Timberwolves shut out the Vikings 3-0 in a 5A Inland Empire League game at LC.
“You can’t put into words the competitor Ben Pharis is,” Bevacqua said. “Day in and day out at practice, he takes things serious.”
The 5-foot-9 Pharis used a fastball and curveball through the first five innings and then tossed in an effective change-up for good measure the final two innings. The combination fooled CdA hitters.
It fooled them so much, in fact, that Vikings coach Nick Rook said it was Pharis’ change-up that bothered his team most. But he didn’t throw a change-up until the sixth.
“We couldn’t make adjustments,” CdA coach Nick Rook said. “You’re not going to score much when you get one hit. We didn’t make adjustments throughout the game and (Pharis) did a good job battling. Hats off to Pharis. He did a good job.”
Pharis had a no-hitter through five innings.
In the sixth, speedy Vikings senior Drew Turbin beat out a ball grounded deep into the hole at shortstop. Pharis shook it off, getting a pop fly for the third out with the next batter.
He didn’t know he was going to start until Monday.
“I was wondering why I wasn’t pitching,” said Pharis, who starts in center field when he’s not pitching and is LC’s leadoff hitter. “I knew Coach Bevacqua would get me going.”
LC (8-5, 3-3) took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI ground out from Jason Pattis. The T-Wolves added two in the fifth. Bryce Mort singled in a run and Pattis reached on a single. With Mort on third and Pattis at first, Bevacqua called for a delayed steal, hoping to manufacture another run. CdA pitcher Derek Priano twitched while he was set and was called for a balk.
CdA’s most serious threat came in the seventh when the Vikings (11-6, 3-2) loaded the bases thanks to a hit batter and two walks. Pharis struggled momentarily, getting the ball up in the zone. But he relaxed enough to get his seventh and eighth strikeouts to quell CdA’s comeback hopes.
“What was important to me was getting ahead in the count,” Pharis said. “That first-pitch strike kept the momentum on our side the whole game. I think I came out and was ready and showed them my best.”
Mort led LC with three hits.