While Will Lucas took a deep breath, his mother put her hands together and prayed.
No worries, Mom. Divine Intervention was unnecessary. Not the way her son was throwing.
Lucas joined an exclusive club Monday at Lamade Stadium, throwing a no-hitter while leading New England champ Fairfield, Conn., to a 4-0 Little League Baseball World Series elimination win over Great Lakes champ New Castle, Ind.
Lucas struck out 13 and remarkably still only threw 76 pitches. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed only two baserunners and one came on a strikeout in the dirt. The other was a fourth-inning walk and after that Lucas retired his last nine batters, striking out the final two.
"I tried to forget about it and just pitch, but it kept coming back to me and I was getting nervous," Lucas said. "In batting practice, coach (Bill) Meury told me aim small and miss small, and it worked today."
Connecticut reached the U.S. Final Four and will play another elimination game at 8 p.m. today against California. The West champions defeated Connecticut, 6-4, in both teams' Series opener.
Lucas, who threw his first no-hitter at any level, helped his cause with a two-run, fifth-inning single that capped the scoring. That will just be a footnote when he, his teammates and Connecticut fans look back.
Monday was all about Lucas' pitching. He opened the night in dominant fashion and finished it the same way. Lucas struck out the side in the first inning on 11 pitches and needed only seven pitches to finish the no-hitter in the sixth.
After Ryan Meury caught Cory Murphy's long flyball at the center field warning track, Lucas fanned the next two batters on six straight pitches, seemingly throwing faster each time.
"I threw three straight fastballs to the last batter," Lucas said. "Each one I tried to throw harder and harder."
New Castle, Ind., coach Brett Mann called timeout when Lucas was a strike away, but it did little to break up Lucas's rhythm. At that same time, Connecticut third baseman Kevin Oricoli dared Lucas to throw a knuckleball.
Lucas ignored the request and stayed focused. He took a deep breath, went back on the mound, reared back and blew one final strike by, competing the no-hitter.
Lucas raised his right arm in the air and pumped his fist a few times. His teammates then dogpiled Lucas in front of the mound, creating an image he and they will remember forever.
"He was as sharp as he could be," Meury said. "He was as sharp as he could be. He was terrific."
Lucas threw 57 of his 76 pitches for strikes. Only Mason Gillis and Murphy put the ball in the outfield against him. Murphy put a scare into Lucas but Ryan Meury was playing deep and made a nice catch, preventing the ball from hitting high off the wall.
Relieved, Lucas overpowered the last two hitters and did not let either one make contact.
"Once I saw Will in the bullpen before the game I knew it would be a good night," Connecticut catcher Biagio Paoletta said. "When he struck out the first two hitters I knew something special was going to happen."
Matt Kubel, who threw 4 2-3 innings of shutout baseball in Saturday's win over Nebraska, put Connecticut ahead to stay in the second inning, crushing a lead-off home run over the center-field fence. Henry Prestegaard made it 2-0 four batters later, hitting a two-out RBI single.
"He gave me a fastball and I just barreled up," Kubel said. "It felt good because I had been struggling and I felt like a weight had been lifted."
"Hat's off to their first pitcher because he was really good and he has a nasty curve," Prestegaard said. "The pitch before I ducked because I thought it was coming at my head and it went for a strike so I just was trying to make contact."
Indiana finished its Series 1-2 after making an outstanding run to South Williamsport. The Great Lakes champions reached the Series despite losing two games in states and regionals.
"We were winners when we showed up here," Indiana manager Tim Porter said. "Every team here has stories about having a positive impact and we hope we have a few of those."
Third baseman Bryce Huntley made a huge impact all summer, making a series of spectacular plays. He made another Monday night, diving down the third-base line and snaring a Kubel grounder that appeared it would go down the line for a double. Instead, Huntley not only made the stop, but also made a strong throw to first for the out.
"Bryce makes plays like that all the time," Porter said. "He's a great player. People here see him make two or three of those plays, but we're fortunate that we get to see him make those all the time."
Lucas made his prescence felt at the plate in the sixth inning, scoring Ryan Meury and Paoletta with his two-run single. Meury had reached on a bunt and Paoletta doubled.
Everything Lucas did seemed to work. The unwritten rule with no-hitters is to never mention them while they happen. Kubel ignored that warning in the fourth inning.
"I told him he had a no-hitter going and he ignored me," Kubel said.
Lucas could not be rattled or touched. No worries equaled no hits.