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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Mar. 10, 2022 3 months ago

Ocoee High School pitcher throws no-hitter in debut

Hunter Sandbrick’s first career start went about as well as he could have imagined.
by: Chris Martucci Sports Editor

It seemed like an ordinary day on the baseball diamond as the Ocoee Knights got set to take on Celebration on their home field. 

With two consecutive wins following an opening-day loss to Winter Springs, it felt like another win could be on the horizon. 

It also was junior Hunter Sandbrick’s first time on the mound for the Knights; he played as an outfielder his first two years. As he got warmed up and ready to go, there was something in the air that told him the day was going to be special. 

After six innings, Sandbrick was sitting on a 6-0 lead and, most amazingly, a potential no-hitter. 

Down went the first out without much trouble. 

Then, the second. 

Then, finally, the third and final out. 

In his first career start, Sandbrick had thrown a complete game no-hitter — along with five strikeouts. If it had not been for the lone walk on his box score, it would have been a perfect game. As his teammates mobbed him on the mound, Sandbrick finally began to realize the magnitude of the moment.

“I went to the game not thinking much of it, that we were going to win, and it just came up to being a no-hitter,” Sandbrick said. “I wasn’t throwing balls in warm up; I was hitting my spots, everything was there and feeling good. I got in the game, no pressure, and felt great.” 

After four innings of work, it started to become apparent just how good of a game he was throwing. When Celebration’s bench start yelling and calling out at him to try to throw him off, Sandbrick knew he was on the precipice of something special. 

And whatever the Storm tried to do to rattle him didn’t work. 

“I was focused on myself, trying to focus on throwing strikes, let them hit the ball to my teammates and let them take care of the rest,” Sandbrick said. 

Sandbrick did more than just throw a no-hitter. On offense, he got two hits and an RBI to contribute to the Knights’ 6-0 victory. Justin Godek led the way with two hits and two RBIs. 

After Sandbrick spent his first two years as an outfielder, Ocoee Manager Chad Hall approached him about the possibility of becoming a pitcher.

“He was saying he liked my arm from the outfield and that we should try pitching,” Sandbrick said. “It seems to have paid off. I’m an in-between guy on the mound — I have a pretty nice slider, but I also try to throw pretty fast.” 

Sandbrick said he models his game after the New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom.

With his first career start and first career no-hitter out of the way, Sandbrick is not satisfied with just one. 

“I want to have another no-hitter,” he said.

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Chris Martucci was the sports editor for the West Orange Times & Observer,  Southwest Orange Observer and He holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri — Columbia School of Journalism, as well as a bachelor's degree in digital media...

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