Joe Nestor pitched a no-hitter to clinch Hammond's first county baseball championship, 3-1, Friday at Hammond.
The Bears (15-4 overall, 11-2 league) defeated second-place Centennial (12-7, 9-4) in the next-to-last league game.
Nestor overcame the pain of a pinched sciatic nerve in his right hip to thwart the co-championship hopes of the hard-hitting Eagles.
Designated hitter Curt Barnard knocked in the game-winning run in the first inning on a two-out, two-run single.
"He hit a hanging curve," said Centennial pitcher Justin Thomas (4-2).
He fanned seven, walked one and allowed six hits.
But this was Nestor's day. He threw mainly curves and sliders and allowed just two balls to be hit out of the infield.
"I knew going in that I didn't have my fastballbecause I couldn't drive and bend on this hip, which was killing me," Nestor said. "I just kept throwing my deuce (curve) and spotting myfast ball."
Nestor (8-2) got his first high school no-hitter in the biggest game of the year for the Bears.
"I've got to give our defense a lot of credit also," Nestor said.
The Bears turned two double plays and played errorless ball for the sixth time this season.
Leadoff batter Mike Alverez (2-for-4) started the winning first-inning rally with a single to center. He stole second base, his 28th steal of the year, and went to third on Matt Cyran's double to right.
Thomas reached back and retired Hammond's two best hitters, Jeff Cyran on a come-backer and Jeff Lavis on a pop-up.
He looked as though he might escape the first inning unscored on until he hung the two-out curve to Banard.
"My curve just wasn't working early in the game," Thomas said.
Hammond added a third run in the second. Tom Costell led off by being hit by the pitch. Joe Brewer bunted him to second base. And Alverez singled Costell home.
The Bears never threatened after that, as Thomas settled down and pitched well. A diving catch into a fence by first baseman Austin Groves helped Thomas in the fourth inning. And third baseman Brent McGraw made several nice fielding plays.
Centennial had a base-runner in every inning but one against Nestor, who walked five and hit a batter. Centennial's Sam Yurko led off the game by reaching on catcher's interference but was erased on a double play.
Nestor walked the first two batters in the fourth inning, when Centennial scored its only run. Brian Bickerton scored on a ground out by Thomas.
"It wasn't my best game, but it wasnice to win," Nestor said.
Said Hammond coach Bob Maxey, "It's nice to have things happen the way you thought they would. We have a competitive team with good pitching and defense."
Hammond will play in the Region II Class 2A playoffs starting next Friday.
Centennial, under first-year coach Ron Martin, will play in the Region I Class3A playoffs.