Hometown Report

McClatchy High ace has three no-hitters in a row. Why Jack Hinrichsen is a bit irked

McClatchy High School ace Jack Hinrichsen has thrown three consecutive no-hitters this season and seven during his varsity career.
McClatchy High School ace Jack Hinrichsen has thrown three consecutive no-hitters this season and seven during his varsity career. Courtesy of McClatchy High School baseball

He threw his first no-hitter at 12 years old, the lanky lad blasting through a lineup with high heat.

Jack Hinrichsen showed uncommon poise and a tenacity to do something specific – mute the motor mouths.

"I was with Land Park Little League," Hinrichsen recalled Wednesday afternoon, "and I remember it was a chirpy team, so it was nice to shut them up."

Now this sort of thing has become something of old hat for an old soul.

The McClatchy High School senior is on a whale of a streak. He has tossed three consecutive no-hitters for the Metropolitan Conference powerhouse.

Hinrichsen and the Lions have been too strong for much of the Metro, except league champion Laguna Creek, which handed McClatchy (16-8, 11-2 Metro) its only two league losses this season. Each of the no-hitters have come in five innings of mercy-shortened games against programs desperate for better days, but pitching domination is to be admired regardless.

In facing Burbank, Hinrichsen struck out 12 and walked one in a 15-0 rout. Against Florin, it was 12 strikeouts and a walk in a 12-0 victory. And on Tuesday against Sacramento, it was 13 strikeouts and one walk in a 16-0 runaway. That's a tidy 37 strikeouts in 15 innings.

What irked the Cal-bound ace? The walks. This is a perfectionist, and a base on balls stings like a bone spur to the ego.

"Each game, I had a walk, and they seemed borderline pitches on 3-2 count, so it's tough," Hinrichsen said. "But I'm happy."

Here's happy: The 6-foot-1 Hinrichsen has tossed seven no-hitters over his four-year varsity career. He credits his defense and sticks to the same routine: how he walks to the mound, how he picks up the ball, how he approaches each batter.

Hinrichsen is 7-3 this season with a 1.14 ERA, his best pitch a high-80s fastball. He was 9-2 last season with an 0.55 ERA and three no-hitters. He went 5-1 as a freshman with a 1.91 ERA and was 6-3 as a sophomore with a 1.50 ERA.

Hinrichsen has struck out 262 batters in 212 varsity innings. That's mighty good work for a guy who also cleans up in the classroom.

McClatchy is an academic boot camp, and Hinrichsen has stomped his way through this final year with a 4.5 grade-point average. He takes AP courses in calculus, literature and government, explaining, "The smarter I am, the better I'll do in college and beyond."

Hinrichsen said he is eager for the Cal challenge in class and in the Pac-12 under coach Mike Neu, the one-time Sacramento City College ace.

For now, there are more games to ponder for the Lions. The Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs start Tuesday, and the Lions are in the Division I field. In past seasons, they competed in D-II.

The D-I bracket will be chock full of regional heavies such as Elk Grove, Franklin, Jesuit, Davis, Oak Ridge, St. Mary's of Stockton, Woodcreek, Granite Bay, Rocklin and others.

"I'm excited about the competition," Hinrichsen said. "I'm looking for an upset."

In facing Metro teams, competition is always a concern.

"Some may discount the no-hitters because of the teams we play, but a no-hitter is a no-hitter and you still have to focus," McClatchy coach Mike de Necochea said. "Jack's been pitching big games for us since his freshman year and he gets better and better. He works very hard. He puts his work in. He doesn't take shortcuts. He enjoys the process and the results show it."

Hinrichsen also swings the bat, hitting .326 with 13 RBIs. The team's other star is also a jack-of-all-trades, as in Jack Filby. The UCLA-bound shortstop is a four-year varsity standout, batting. 385 with 21 RBIs. He also has three wins on the mound.

Catching a close-up view of all of the no-hit fun has been Hinrichsen's father, Jeff, a lawyer by day and a Lions assistant coach by late afternoon.

"It gets a little anxious for me watching," Jeff said with a laugh. "I don't say a lot when he's pitching. I just watch and try to offer something constructive. Very proud."

Hinrichsen is still growing, and with growth, his fastball expects to creep well into the 90s.

When Hinrichsen is done humming fastballs, he wants to hum deals. He will study business at Cal.

"I'd like to be some sort of entrepreneur, start my own business but not sure which and make some money," he said with a laugh.

Yep, cool hand Jack.