So close to perfect ... Clear Spring pitcher fires no-hitter

April 28, 1998|By DAN SPEARS

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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McCauleySo close to perfect ... Clear Spring pitcher fires no-hitter

CLEAR SPRING - Jeff McCauley simply laughed.

The Clear Spring pitcher had just struck out his 12th batter of the game and thought he had kept his perfect game alive against Southern Fulton through the sixth inning.

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Then he watched in disbelief as the pitch bounced off the corner of the plate and over the short backstop to give a free base to strikeout victim Clint Wyrick.


Perfect game over, in maybe the weirdest way possible.

But after a few chuckles and a quick pep talk from coach Jim Hutson, McCauley made up for it with his own oddity, getting a fourth strikeout in the inning to keep his no-hitter as No. 7 Clear Spring finished off a 10-0 victory over the Indians on Monday afternoon.

"I knew I had one going," McCauley said. "When I know what's going on, that's when I start to do a little better out there."

The Blazer southpaw was a lot better right from the beginning. He struck out Brandon Ward and Justin Hixon to start the game and just kept going, striking out 13 in what he called "my best game ever."

"When you've got a left-hander out there that's on," Hutson said, "it's always nice to see.

"I wasn't sure what was going to happen coming back from Boston, but as long as Jeff had his, I knew we were going to be all right."

All of the possible things that could have gone wrong made McCauley's performance that much more spectacular. Half the team had just gotten back on Sunday from a school trip to Boston, the team hadn't played at all since Wednesday and McCauley had a headache before the game.

"I was actually kind of nervous coming in," McCauley said. "... but it went away once I started striking everyone out."

McCauley's headache was passed on to Southern Fulton coach Bart Elbin in the bottom of the first.

With two outs and a run in, Clear Spring cleanup hitter Jairid Mowen hit a towering fly to left field. Indians left fielder Robert Oakman tried to keep his eye on the ball and the quickly approaching fence, but with one hand on the fence, the ball went just over Oakman's glove for a double. The Blazers (12-5) followed with four straight hits to put them up 5-0 after the first inning.

"When he's throwing like that, there's not a lot you can do," Elbin said. "You've just got to hope you're close and you can find a way to score."

Mowen led the Blazers with three hits, including a two-run single in the sixth that closed the game. Jeremy Steach had the honor of being the only player not to strike out for Southern Fulton (4-9).

At one point, Clear Spring's infield started goofing off after another of McCauley's strikeouts. As an errant throw went to the fence past third base, Hutson warned his players to be ready on defense, "or else." With McCauley pitching, it really wasn't necessary.

"They've done this before, tend to get a little satisfied," Hutson said of his team, which has won 12 of its last 14. "Sometimes you need to bark at them, but I was really just watching the mastery out there."

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