A 13-year-old pitcher for the 13U Cherokee Reds, he threw a no-hitter Thursday night.
The Reds forced a mercy-rule win when they outscored the Shaw Park Mudcats 8-0 in five innings. Cherokee used some timely hitting to produce runs and benefited from a five-run third.
Reds coach John Wells, who has coached various levels of youth baseball for more than 12 years, said it’s just the third time he’d seen the feat accomplished.
“It’s not totally unheard of, but it doesn’t happen often,” Wells said. “I knew right off in the first inning that Tanner was going to be on that night. He went three-up, three-down in the first inning, with two strikeouts. At that point, I knew he was on, and if we could give him run support and play defense, he could get a win that night.”
The Reds are just three games into their season, and Budwitz took the mound looking for his first win of the season — only to find something much bigger. He struck out seven batters, but also relied on a tough defense behind him.
Wells said that while the team didn’t talk about the no-hitter, everyone was aware of what was going on.
“There were several plays that were made that kept it going,” he said. “There was a play in right field that was probably a hit any other night, but the kids knew what was going on. (Austin Clark), my right fielder threw it to my first baseman, Justin Wells, and made a great bang-bang play to keep the no-hitter going on in the third inning.”
John Wells also credited Justin Wells for another solid play on a ball hit sharply down the first base line.
“There was a lot that went into it,” John Wells said. “Like any no-hitter, the stars have to be aligned for you that night.”
Budwitz also played for Wells on the U11 level.
“His pitching coach is Joey Hamilton, and Joey changed a few things in the offseason,” Wells said, referring to the former major leaguer. “I think it is really going to help him. He is a big kid who throws the ball pretty hard.”
Wells said Budwitz’s pitch count didn’t get very high. He threw just 82 pitches in the game.
“He was hitting his spots so well,” Wells said. “It was pretty early that we knew he was throwing real well. We started looking at him about 75 pitches, but we left him in because we knew that all we had to do was score a couple more runs for it to end early. So there was really no doubt in the late part of the game that we were going to leave him in the game.”