The pressure on each pitcher intensified.
The chatter became louder and louder in the dugout as the City team realized it had a no-hitter in the works.
Since it was an all-star game the 47th annual City/County All-Star Baseball Game, to be exact taboos such as talking about a no-hitter in progress were forgiven Sunday.
This night, after all, was about making lasting high school memories.
The City held the County hitless for six innings while using six different pitchers before Sierra High's Garrett Martin singled in the seventh to break up the no-hitter.
Nonetheless, the City prevailed 5-1 before a crowd of about 1,500 at Chukchansi Park behind eight shutout innings from eight different pitchers and a string of singles during the first two innings. The City now has won five of the past six games and leads the series 32-15.
"These guys did a great job pounding the zone, filling it up with strikes, trying not to give away free base runners," said City coach Jason Papi, who coaches at Fresno High. "We've got a lot of good pitchers on this team, and I'm proud of them.
"This was a good group of kids. They were loose, energetic and were having a lot of fun."
City pitchers Deondre Howard (Edison), Marco Pierce (Clovis West), Jorge Alvarado (Fresno), Jarrett Kirby (Clovis East), Brandon Acosta (Fresno) and Cameron Garver (Memorial) each threw a hitless inning.
Acosta, the North Yosemite League Player of the Year, struck out the side in the fifth inning.
"I didn't know we had a no-hitter going until after I pitched; that probably made things a little easier for me," said Acosta, who plans on pitching for Fresno City next year. "When I came back to the dugout, that's all everyone was talking about and how to keep it going. It would've been great to have gotten the no-hitter. It still was a good time."
The City built a 3-0 lead after two innings, even scoring off County starting pitcher Connor Brogdon of Liberty-Madera Ranchos the only player to participate in the game who was selected in the MLB draft.
City cleanup hitter Aaron Simms (Bullard) drove in the game's first run with a single to left off Brogdon as McKay France (Clovis) scored from second. France had put himself in scoring position by stealing second base just prior to Simms' at-bat.
France and City teammate Daniel Gardner (Clovis North) also provided RBIs in the second inning.
Mark Truijillo (Clovis East)put the City ahead 4-0 with an RBI double down the left-field line in the fifth. The City scored again in the seventh off a County throwing error.
Brogdon, a Fresno State recruit who was selected in the 40th round by the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, gave up one run off two walks and a single in the first inning. He did, though, finish with three strikeouts while Fresno State coach Mike Batesole watched from the stands. Batesole also had another reason to be there, with his son Kody (Buchanan) suiting up for the City.
Longtime Fresno State coach Bob Bennett also was present, honored before the game for his contributions to baseball in the Valley.
Bulldogs recruit Carlos Salazar of Kerman was in uniform for the County, although he elected not to play on his own accord. Salazar was drafted in the third round by the Atlanta Braves during the MLB draft.
"Obviously, it would've been nice to have played him and show all the fans who was the best pitcher in the Valley this year," said County coach John Hollett of Selma. "But we always knew there was a good chance he wasn't going to play."
After Martin broke up the no-hitter in the seventh, he managed to break up the City's shutout with a groundout RBI in the ninth.
But it was too little, too late as the City locked up the win a batter later.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6362, email@example.com.