A short time after it began, the coronavirus pandemic forced the CIF to cancel the rest of the spring sports season, which meant an abrupt ending to the high school careers of spring sports seniors around the central valley. As a way of honoring some of these outstanding seniors, our Sports Central team will be presenting a series of stories called “Senior Standouts” each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday through the end of June.
PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – They say records are meant to be broken, but good luck breaking Johnny Vander Meer’s record.
Vander Meer, a former pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, threw back-to-back no-hitters in June of 1938. The only way to break that record is to throw three consecutive no-hitters!
Granite Hills pitcher Rene Lopez had a chance at three straight no-hitters…until the coronavirus.
“Oh, I was excited,” said Lopez. “I was pumped, I was ready, I felt great. During practices I felt amazing. I was really locked in. I felt unstoppable.”
Rene Lopez threw his first no-hitter this season on February 28th against Kings Christian. The next time he took the mound, March 6th at Farmersville, he threw his second no-hitter.
His teammates knew what was happening both times.
“They went up to me and told me, ‘oh, you know you’re super close to a no-hitter’ when I had it. And I told them, ‘no, you’re not supposed to say that, you’re gonna jinx it and stuff,'” smiled Lopez. “No, I don’t really mind if they give me a pat on the back after every inning. I don’t really mind it. I’m just focusing.”
Rene Lopez was supposed to pitch again on March 13th against Strathmore, but the season was canceled and that game was never played.
Granite Hills was 5-2 at the time. Lopez was 3-0.
“Everyone’s just been saying that they miss baseball, they miss throwing, they miss hitting. They miss being out there,” he said. “So I’ve been working out a lot, I’ve just been trying to stay consistent, working every day.
“Try not to get out of shape, pretty much.”