Senior Oregon State-bound Cooper Hjerpe racked up his third straight no-hitter earlier this week to set up some amazing possibilities. One of those is that he needs one more to tie the Cal-Hi Sports state record first set in 1963 by a pitcher from Winters, which is just 20 miles away and also in Yolo County.
Hjerpe’s latest no-hitter came on Tuesday of this week in a five-inning 19-0 romp by the Wolves over Mesa Verde of Citrus Heights. He struck out 15 batters and had a monster game at the plate by crushing three home runs. Reporter Matt Murphy of the Woodland Daily Democrat wrote that one of homers was “an inside-the-parker” but that another one went “off the roof of the church behind the right field fence at Clark Field.”
The first no-hitter of the streak came on March 26 in a similar contest as Tuesday’s. That was five innings against Mira Loma of Sacramento (11-0 win) and in that one Hjerpe also whiffed 15. Then last week against much tougher Casa Roble of Orangevale (6-5 overall), Hjerpe went for seven innings and gave up no hits with one walk and 14 strikeouts in a 1-0 victory.
Assuming he didn’t have any no-hit innings in a loss to Dixon in his last outing before the streak began, Hjerpe would have 19 straight such innings after Tuesday and in those innings he also has 44 strikeouts with just two walks. Sure, Mira Loma and Mesa Verde aren’t top teams, and five-inning no-hitters count toward streaks in this category, but almost all of the others in California history who’ve had similar accomplishments are from facing even much more small school competition than those two teams.
For many years, the Cal-Hi Sports state record was reported at three straight no-hitters by Lloyd Allen of Selma set in 1967. In 2010, East Nicolaus of Nicolaus senior John Kukuruda tossed four straight no-hitters (three of those were in five-inning games), but at the time of reporting that record Cal-Hi Sports was informed of another one of four that was set in 1963 by Byron Randolph of Winters. Info from Winters and our own files confirmed that record. Randolph’s four straight also were all in seven-inning games (no five-inning affairs) and he’s also now credited with the state record with 34 consecutive no-hit innings.
Then the very next season in 2011, Steven Perry of Maxwell tied Kukuruda’s and Randolph’s record with four in a row. Perry almost had a fifth straight no-hitter as well, but gave up a bloop single in the second inning for the only hit he allowed.
The last reported pitcher in the state with three straight no-hitters was Ashwin Chona from Sage Hill of Newport Beach. He broke the CIF Southern Section two years ago with a third in a row vs. Calvary Chapel of Santa Ana (16-0 win), but that streak ended in his next game. Hjerpe’s three in a row is believed to be a record for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. One of those listed with two in a row (we may be incomplete) is Lloyd Snook of Sacramento High from way back in 1911. He did it with two straight nine-inning no-hitters.
We’ll have to see when Hjerpe pitches next for an attempt at his fourth in a row. The Wolves are scheduled to be in the Sutter Spring Classic next week with a first scheduled game on Monday against Wheatland.
We have a feeling if Cooper keeps doing what he’s doing, there’s going to be a lot more attention on him from the media than just what he’s been getting from MLB scouts.