Kleinschmit no-hitter is one for the ages
During the past decade, the Kennedy Trojan baseball team has amassed one of the best resumes of success of any program at the 2A/1A level across the state.
Since 2010, the Trojans have won six league titles and have made it to the state playoffs in eight consecutive years — including six trips to the quarterfinals and the team's lone state championship in program history in 2012.
Throughout those seasons, the Trojans have seen some of the state's best pitchers suit up in Kennedy's navy blue and crimson colors, all-state players like R.J. Phillips, Frankie Rodriguez, Sam Moreno and Dalton Susee.
And last week, sophomore Dylan Kleinschmit topped them all.
Facing off against the No. 9 Santiam Wolverines on Tuesday, April 23 in the opening contest of a three-game series, Kleinschmit unleashed a game for the ages, tossing a no-hitter while striking out 17 batters in a 1-0 victory for the No. 2 Trojans.
"I've got to assume it's about as good a game as we've ever had," Kennedy head coach Kevin Moffatt said. "It's definitely the best game since I've been here, and we've had some darn good pitchers."
Add in a three-hit performance from Santiam senior pitcher Wyatt Lyon, and it's unlikely Kennedy High School will ever see a pair of performances on the mound to match what occurred last week.
With Lyon nearly matching pitch-for-pitch, Kleinschmit needed every bit of his mastery to keep the Trojans in the game. The sophomore took a perfect game into the top of the sixth inning, where both teams had yet to score, before issuing a bases-loaded walk to Connor Forste with two outs on the board.
As leadoff hitter Jesse Sendlinger sized up Kleinschmit, Forst stole second base to position himself into scoring position. Rather than let Sendlinger drive him home, Moffatt opted to intentionally walk him to set up a force out at any of the three bags.
"That kid had put a pretty good swing on the last pitch, and we figured we'd be better safe than sorry," Moffatt said. "You don't want the other team's best player to beat you, especially in a 1-0 game."
In the ensuing at-bat, Kleinschmit coerced a grounder up the right side of the infield, which senior Angel De La Rosa converted to the third out. Kennedy struck back in the bottom of the inning, when Brady Traeger drove in teammate Bruce Beyer on a double to left field.
Kleinschmit followed with three more strikeouts in the top of the seventh to close out the game and add his name to the Kennedy record books. Moffatt praised Kleinschmit's accuracy and knowledge of the position after the game, noting that he's able to overcome a lack of power with superior precision.
"He just kind of located," Moffatt said. "He didn't try to change speeds too much, just found a rhythm, located his fastball and just kept throwing strikes."
Serving as the team's primary catcher, Kleinschmit didn't get many opportunities to pitch last year. But the growth of teammate Josh Valladares as his backup behind home plate, has allowed Kleinschmit to work more from the mound this season.
"Having Josh Valladares be another really good catcher has given us the option of throwing Dylan a little bit more, and he's really stepped it up," Moffatt said. "He's mentally tough. He understands the game really well, and I think being a catcher helps him out in that regard. He really has located the ball really well."
The Trojans (16-2, 9-0 Special District 2) went on to claim two more wins over the Wolverines by margins of 8-1 on April 24 and 5-3 on April 26 to sweep the series.
Dylan Kleinschmit, So.
April 23 vs. Santiam
Innings pitched: 7