There have been plenty of good baseball games during the past decade between the Blair Oaks Falcons and the Helias Crusaders, including a 16-inning district championship in 2017, but there's no denying it has been a one-sided rivalry.
Helias had won the last 11 matchups dating back to the start of the 2009 season, winning three of them by one run.
Blair Oaks snapped its losing streak Friday night with a 6-0 win against Helias in the Jay Baseball Classic at the American Legion Post 5 Sports Complex. Wil Libbert and Cade Stockman combined to pitch a no-hitter for the Falcons.
"It starts on the mound," Blair Oaks coach Mike DeMilia said. "Wil was really good, and we expect that out of him."
Libbert struck out 13 of the 21 batters he faced in six innings, walking two. Although the left-hander is a sophomore, Friday was only his third time pitching in a high school game after missing his freshman season due to COVID-19.
"We knew tonight was going to be a different ballgame, but he was pretty dominant for the most part," DeMilia said. "The good thing about Wil is he's not cocky, he's not arrogant. He just keeps to himself and he does his job."
Helias' Sam Schell was matching Libbert shutout inning for shutout inning through the first three innings. Schell kept the game scoreless by stranding a runner on third base in each of the first three innings.
In the top of the third, Blair Oaks tried to take the lead on a double hit in right-center field by Lane Libbert, but Ian Nolph was thrown out on a play at the plate, keeping the game scoreless.
Nolph was ejected for not sliding, as he collided into Helias catch Ethan Holzhauser.
"The throw (home) brought him up the (third-base) line a little bit, I don't think the runner really had any place to go," Helias coach Chris Wyrick said. "They met and it was a pretty good collision.
"Ethan, he's a tough kid. I'm glad he's on my side."
Blair Oaks worked the count often against Schell, as eight of the 18 batters he faced saw at least six pitches during their plate appearances.
"I thought their starting pitcher was really good, but we were able to have some long at-bats and made it real tough on him," DeMilia said. " I felt like we were in control of the game, but he just kept making big pitches."
After Schell was pulled from the mound in the top of the fourth inning, Blair Oaks scored its first run when Holden Brand crossed the plate on a wild pitch with one out. Reid Dudenhoeffer also scored on a wild pitch in the fifth to make the score 2-0.
The Falcons added four insurance runs in the sixth. Lane Libbert had an RBI groundout, then Levi Haney singled up the middle to score a run. Josh Isaacs had a opposite-field single to right field, driving in two more runs to extend the Blair Oaks lead to six runs.
"There's no comfort when you're playing a team like Helias," DeMilia said. "They're known for coming back at the end of games. You're never out of the woods with them, so to get those extra few runs, that was huge. That took a lot of pressure off us."
Jacob Weaver tried to bunt for a single with one out in the sixth, but Wil Libbert slipped, then booted the ball when he tried to pick it up, leading to Weaver reaching on an error. Libbert finished the sixth with a strikeout on his 95th and final pitch.
Libbert threw 62 of his 95 pitches for strikes.
"We could have done better of attacking more strikes that he threw," Wyrick said, "because he was all over the strike zone."
The pitch-count limit for freshmen and sophomores is 95, meaning Libbert couldn't return to the mound for the seventh for Blair Oaks. But had he been a junior or senior, who get 105 pitches, would he have gone back out for the seventh?
"Most likely," DeMilia answered.
Cade Stockman closed the game in the seventh for Blair Oaks, striking out the last batter he faced to secure the no-hitter.
"He wanted to be on the mound there," DeMilia said. "He's unfortunately lost quite a few games to Helias, so for him to be able to have the opportunity to close that down and finish a no-hitter, that's a pretty special thing."
The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for Helias.
"Games like this are good for us, to realize we have to go up there and compete," Wyrick said. " We have to learn that when you have a guy out there trying to come at you, you have to go right back at him. We're still learning."
Haney finished with a pair of singles, the only Blair Oaks player with multiple hits.
With the win, Blair Oaks would have clinched first place in its pool and advanced to the Classic's championship game, but all games Saturday were canceled due to rain.
"We wanted to win this tournament, because we haven't had a ton of success in this," DeMilia said. "With the caliber of competition, we wanted to show what we were capable of."
Blair Oaks (9-2) will look to add to its seven-game winning streak with Monday's home opener against Fulton at the Falcon Athletic Complex.
Helias (8-3) is off until an April 20 road game against Father Tolton.