By Bill Paterson
John Kukuruda didn't get a whole lot of attention for his pitching talents last season on a senior-laden team at East Nicolaus High School.
He played first base and batted .348. He pitched only 16 2/3 innings in going 3-0.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior right-hander is now on the radar of plenty of college and pro scouts, even though the Sutter County school has just 320 students.
That's what happens when one can throw in the upper 80s to low 90s with a 17-1/3 inning no-hit streak.
"He was the third or fourth option last year because we had so many senior pitchers," said Darren Brown, the East Nicolaus athletic director. "A lot of colleges have taken notice of him, including Long Beach State and Sac State. But now there are rumblings about him being drafted."
After pitching 10-run-rule shortened no-hitters against Esparto (five innings), Biggs (six innings) and Los Molinos (five innings), Kukuruda retired all four batters he faced in a 19-0 win over Esparto Tuesday during a relief appearance at Raley Field.
The two teams played after the Sacramento River Cats.
Brown said that because the game was a special event, it was decided that all the Spartans pitchers would get a chance to throw off the Triple-A team's mound.
The initial plan was to have Kukuruda pitch the first two innings. Instead coach Dave Deniz had him enter with two outs in the fourth.
Kukuruda got a strikeout for the final out of the inning, then got three outs in the fifth to end the game, although there was an infield error. Kukuruda also went 3 for 3 and scored four runs in helping the Spartans climb to 21-3.
Entering Tuesday's game Kukuruda was 5-2 with a 1.87 earned run average and 85 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings innings.
He will look to continue his no-hit streak on Friday in the Spartans' regular-season finale game against visiting Hamilton.