Pictured: Zach Zajac said his defense behind him on Tuesday was “stellar.” The Panthers turned two double plays in the junior’s no-hit performance against SMSA.

By Paul Augeri

CROMWELL — Junior right-hander Zach Zajac said he didn’t feel his best Tuesday. He still went out and pitched a no-hitter.

Zajac didn’t allow anything close to a hit against SMSA in the first round of the CIAC Class S tournament on Tuesday. He walked four and his defense erased two of the runners with double plays in a 2-0 victory at Fran Monnes Field.

“I felt pressure, felt like I needed to perform and go out there and get a good team win,” said Zajac, who struck out six. “Personally, I wasn’t feeling 100 percent. I just threw strikes and those double plays that the defense turned were very helpful. Our defense has been stellar.”

Zach Zajac gets instant approval from his teammates after no-hitting SMSA in the Class S tournament.

The Panthers scored their runs in the second inning on an RBI single by Colby DiMenna and a sacrifice fly by Ian McMillan. The team managed only three hits.

“We need more offense and we need more energy,” Cromwell coach Christian Budzik said. “We’ve been playing well defensively since the halfway mark of the season, but our bats have been no-shows. We have to do better than this.”

The Panthers improved to 15-6. The eighth seed in the 32-team field, they will host No. 24 Shepaug in a second-round game Wednesday. Shepaug upset No. 9 Coventry 4-2 in eight innings on Tuesday.

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