Like many baseball players, Gus Gill is unashamedly superstitious. The Walter Johnson senior has worn the same game socks for his entire high school career and each of his pitches begins with the same pre-throw routine.
So when Gill became a bit stand-offish and quiet around the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game at Churchill, his teammates understood: the right-hander was in the midst of a no-hitter.
To complete his first no-no, Gill fanned the final three batters he faced, pushing him to a school-record 13 strikeouts on the night and the Wildcats to a 3-0 win. The old mark? It was also set by Gill just a week earlier, when he fanned 12 batters in the Wildcats’ victory against Richard Montgomery on April 16.
“Throwing the no-hitter was amazing. I had really good command, especially with my slider, which I probably threw fifty percent of the time and got a lot of first-pitch strikes,” recalled Gill, who walked just one batter. “I was aware of it around the fifth inning, but I tried my hardest not to think about it or kept my distance from my teammates so they wouldn’t talk about it.”
As for Walter Johnson Coach Chris Murray, he had no clue that Gill was en route to a no-hitter until after the game, when players raced from the dugout to celebrate with Gill and Murray’s statistician alerted him. It’s not that Murray wasn’t paying attention or didn’t care; he’s simply grown accustomed to Gill making waves on the mound.
After coaching Gill as a freshman on junior varsity, Murray has seen the right-hander sent the school mark for wins in a season (five) as a sophomore and rack up 39 strikeouts this season, leaving Gill 16 strikeouts short of setting the school’s single-season record.
“We’ve had a couple close games recently, so I was trying to make sure we came away with the win and didn’t even realize the no-hitter until he struck out the last batter,” said Murray, who is in his first season as varsity head coach. “I noticed something special when I first met Gus as a freshman and ever since then, you can see the confidence he has when he takes the mound. He has that mentality to try and beat you and not back down.”
Some of this attitude is drawn from Gill’s baseball pedigree. His father, Richard Gill III, played baseball at Catholic University, and his brother, Mac, is a pitcher at UMBC after spending a year at Montgomery College.
Gus is hoping to follow in his brother’s footsteps. He’s talked with Montgomery College’s coaches about playing there next season, which he hopes will lead to a Division I opportunity.
“My goal in life is to play Division I baseball, so that’s what I’m working toward and I think going to Montgomery College can help get me there, like it did for my brother,” said Gill, who is 2-1 with a 1.97 ERA this year. “For now, though, this no-hitter is great and something I won’t ever forget.”