WILMINGTON, N.C. – 117 pitches is what it took for history to be made Thursday night at Buck Hardee Field. That’s what it took Zach Taylor (W, 3-1) to become the first pitcher in Coastal Plains League history to throw a perfect game in a 13-0 win over the Fayetteville SwampDogs.
Taylor’s night consisted of 13 ground-outs, 10 fly-out and 4 strikeouts to complete the historic feat. Taylor got plenty of defensive help behind him to attain perfection. In the fourth inning, Aaron Miller made a tough backhanded play deep in the hole at shortstop to retire Nick Natoli, a play Taylor would refer to as Derek Jeter-like after the game. In the fifth, leftfielder Alex Hill made a catch on a Brandon Padula fly ball to the gap in left-center field.
Then in the ninth, Chris Mazza dropped a Jimmy Roesinger foul pop with one out, but Roesinger then grounded out to Greg Fujii for the second out of the inning. Joe Westbrook lined out to right fielder Joey Rapp to complete the perfect game. Rapp appeared to lose the ball in the lights for a split-second before reaching both hands over his head to make the grab.
Taylor said his family was visiting from Indiana, including his parents, grandmother and sister. It was the last time they would see him pitch this year, he said.
The perfect game understandably overshadowed one of the top offensive outputs for the Sharks this season. The 13 runs tie the nine-inning season best with the 13-5 win over Columbia on July 12.
The offensive action started in the fourth inning as it did the night before in Fayetteville. After Matt Milroy replaced Ryan Prickett (L, 4-3) on the mound with the bases loaded and no outs, Conor Szczerba hit into a double play to score Kenny Bryant making it 1-0. A Chris Mazza grounder turned into more runs after second baseman Casey Maloney overthrew first base, scoring Aaron Preston and Greg Fujii to make it 3-0.
Wilmington blew the game open in the fifth, scoring six more to make it 9-0. Kenny Bryant’s double to right scored Aaron Miller for the first run on the inning. A wild pitch by Andy Lowe scored Joey Rapp and then Szczerba’s single scored Fujii and Bryant to make it 7-0. Alex Hill then reached on a fielder’s choice where Matt Willis and Szczerba scored to make it 9-0 going into the sixth.
Szczerba then kicked off the scoring in the sixth when his fielder’s choice scored Bryant. Mazza then singled to right field, scoring Szczerba and Fujii to make it 12-0. Bryant’s single scored Miller in the seventh capped the scoring at 13-0.
Bryant was 4-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs. Szczerba was 1-5 with two runs and three RBIs, giving him six RBIs in his last two games.
The Sharks are back in action Friday, July 23 at Buck Hardee Field against the Morehead City Marlins on Cape Fear Diagnostics Autograph Night and Taco Bell Fireworks Night. Gates open at 6:00 p.m. with first pitch at 7:05.
By the way, next Thursday is WWAY Shirt Off Our Back Night at Buck Hardee Field. Maybe there will be another perfect game?
Article Courtesy: Wilmington Sharks