Jacob Loose was laughing, but he might have been the only one.
Capital High School’s junior pitcher dealt a 4-0 shutout to North Thurston on Monday, handing the Rams their fourth consecutive loss.
He allowed his one hit in the top of the seventh inning — three outs shy of his first career no-hitter — when a bloop single plopped down in shallow right field.
“I just laughed; I thought it was funny,” Loose said. “Baseball is a funny sport like that. There’s nothing I can do about that.”
The left-hander had to make do with his first one-hitter. Apart from Griff Peppley’s lone blemish on the score sheet, Loose made quick work of the Rams. He struck out nine batters — at least one per inning — and retired 14 in a row at one point.
“It was a circus,” North Thurston coach Pete Peppley said. “He made us look like a circus. He did a great job keeping us off-balance.”
Loose faced 23 batters, and averaged about four pitches per batter. And his mixture of fastballs, curveballs and changeups stymied North Thurston’s offense.
“When he’s dealing, he’s dealing real well,” Capital second baseman Sam Condon said. “That curve ball is probably the nastiest pitch I’ve seen.”
Condon was one of four Capital batters to get hits in a three-run fifth inning, giving Loose a cushion. Condon was 2 for 3 with an RBI, run scored and a stolen base. Mitchell Dooley and Cody Jenkins were also 2 for 3.
Cameron Kwieciak knocked in the go-ahead run in the fourth with a sharp grounder down the left-field line to score pinch runner Carson Bertelli.
“We knew we had to support (Loose), especially the way he was pitching,” Kwieciak said. “Zach (Robbins), our catcher, he told me early on he saw how well Jacob was doing. ... We had to get him a little bit more of a lead, get him more comfortable.”
Said Loose: “It takes the pressure off. It’s easy to play with teammates behind me and runs on the board.”
Jake Harn recorded the complete-game loss for North Thurston, allowing four runs on nine hits while striking out three. He threw 91 pitches.
“I feel like he’s kind of our Felix (Hernandez),” Pete Peppley said. “When he throws, our hitters kind of take the day off. He’s throwing really well.”
Only three North Thurston batters reached base. Loose walked Tyler Parchem in the fifth, hit Noah Murski the following inning and never faced more than four batters in an inning.
Then Griff Peppley stepped to the plate to lead off the seventh. He watched one strike go by before popping his single into right field.
“We knew he had a no-no going,” Peppley said. “I was just looking for something to hit the other way, because he was mostly throwing curveballs all (game). … It wasn’t a hard hit, but it ended up falling.”
Loose retired the next three batters — striking out the final two — to end it. Capital (10-6, 10-1 3A Narrows League) remains in a tie for first place with Central Kitsap after Monday. If both teams win out in their final three league games, Central Kitsap would win the title — it allowed fewer runs than Capital in head-to-head games.
“Seeding for the playoffs is a big deal,” Loose said. “We want to get back to state. This is the year, we think. (This is) a big win to get in that seeding spot.”
Capital meets North Thurston (8-9, 8-3) again at 4 p.m. Wednesday at North Thurston High School for the final game of the two-game series.
“The first win is usually the biggest because we get the confidence going into the second game,” Condon said. “Now that we’ve beat them, we’re still tied with CK at the top. This game definitely helps out in the overall race.”
Lauren Smith: @smithlm12