WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Thursday was a special night for a young baseball pitcher and thousands of Wilmington Sharks fans. Zach Taylor achieved perfection, not allowing a single batter on base last night.
It's something hardly any pitcher even comes close to, but after 26 batters Thursday night, 26 had been retired with one left to go. Taylor's nerves were running high.
"The ninth inning I was a little pumped up, a little nervous," he said.
With one strike to go, the Buck Hardee Field crowd rose to its feet, and cheered for history as the 27th man up lined out to right field and Taylor's teammates rushed the field. (Click here to see the final out)
"I was just trying to avoid the dogpile," Taylor said. "I didn't want to get tackled."
Taylor, 22, is a relief pitcher for his team at the University of Evansville. He may not have come to Wilmington as a star, but he is now after throwing the first perfect game the Coastal Plain League has ever seen.
"It's pretty cool," Taylor said. "You just have to try and go out there and do it every game. That's pretty much everybody's goal is to try and be perfect. It's hard to attain, but obviously it's in there someplace."
The celebration went on through the night, and with good reason. "Perfectos," as they are known, are rare. A pitcher can't allow a single hit or a single walk. No baserunners at all, even by an error or hit by pitch. It's been done only 20 times in the big leagues, including twice this year.
Call it a timely joke or a good omen, but the catcher knew Taylor was throwing well early in the game.
"It was funny. Our catcher last night in the first inning, he said, 'Hey, man, you're throwing a no-hitter after the first inning,'" Taylor said. "He kind of jinxed it, but then, obviously I got through it."
But players can be superstitious during big games not wanting to hurt the pitcher's mojo.
"We had a no-hitter going earlier this season, and our equipment manager 'Big Kev,' he kind of ruined it for us," Taylor said. "He told the guy, 'Hey, you're throwing a no-hitter,' and the next inning he gives up a hit."
But "Big Kev" stayed away Thursday, and the night belonged to Taylor, who just has to get his tired arm rested up for his next start, where he'll try and throw the second perfect game in league history.
"It's dragging. My whole body's dragging right now, but it's alright," Taylor said.
Making history tends to make things a little easier. And making the experience better, Taylor's family was in the stands to witness his perfect performance.
The Sharks play again tonight out at Buck Hardee Field against the Morehead City Marlins. The game starts at 7 p.m. and will feature fireworks whether there's a perfect game or not.