SOUTH PORTLAND — Cody Bowker was in such a zone Thursday afternoon that he wasn’t even aware he was flirting with a no-hitter.

The Thornton Academy junior ace escaped an early jam and didn’t surrender a hit until the sixth inning, finishing with a one-hitter against South Portland in a 2-0 victory.

Bowker struck out 12, and catcher Brady Graffam had the key hit, a two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning that helped Thornton improve to 8-1.

“To me, my stats, I don’t care,” said Bowker. “As long as we got the victory, that’s all I care about.”

Red Riots starter Nolan Hobbs worked out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the top of the first. In the bottom half, leadoff batter Bradley McMains walked, stole second and reached third on a wild pitch with nobody out, but Bowker struck out Connor Dobson and got Noah Dreifus to line out to second. After Andrew Heffernan drew a walk, Richard Gilboy popped out to short.

That was the first of 12 straight batters retired by Bowker. Meanwhile, Hobbs held the Golden Trojans at bay until the fifth.

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With one out in the fifth, Hobbs hit Jeremiah Chessie with a pitch, then Bowker hit a hard groundball to third that bounced off Johnny Poole and got away, putting runners at second and third. Hobbs appeared poised to escape again when he got Henry Lausier to pop out to second, but Graffam followed with a ground-ball single between first and second, driving home both runners.

“(Hobbs) usually threw a fastball right off the bat, so I wanted to sit back and go the other way with it,” Graffam said.

Bowker retired the Red Riots (7-3) without a hit in the fifth and struck out McMains looking to start the sixth, but on the first pitch of the next at-bat, Dobson lined a clean single to left-center.

“I didn’t even know (about the no-hitter) until they got the hit,” said Thornton Academy Coach Jason Lariviere. “That’s what kind of team this is. This is one of the most unselfish teams I’ve coached.”

Bowker retired the final five batters to close out the victory.

“I wanted to put my team in a position to win,” said Bowker. “I’m confident always. I know the rest of the team will help me out.”

Hobbs was the tough-luck loser, giving up five hits while striking out seven.

“Every once in awhile you run into a guy that’s got it going like (Bowker), but I thought we had some good at-bats,” said South Portland assistant coach Jason Cooke, filling in because head coach Mike Owens had to miss the game after being ejected from the Red Riots’ last contest. “Nolan was fantastic for us. He gave us a chance to win.”


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