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One-hit wonder: Perry's no-hit string snapped
REDDING - No runs, one hit, no errors.
That single pitching line also served as the storyline of one of the biggest baseball games played in the state of California recently, as Maxwell High's Steven Perry continued his right-armed assault on the record books.
Taking the mound Thursday against Sutter in the 10th annual Shasta Lake Bass Easter Baseball Classic at Big League Dreams in Redding, the senior flame-thrower had pitched no-hitters the last four times he had taken the mound, tying the state record shared by East Nicolaus' John Kukuruda and Winters High's Bryon Randolph.
When the Huskies' Mat Sanders fought off a Perry offering to drop a clean single into center field with two out in the second inning, Perry's hopes of pitching a fifth straight no-no were ended.
But just barely, as he went on to throw a six-inning one-hitter in a 10-0 Maxwell win.
While not typically a relief pitcher, the word "relief" accurately summed up the overall reaction to Perry's enormous accomplishment, one that has even gotten his name out into the national spotlight.
"It's a big relief," said a calm Perry after coming off the field. "I don't have the pressure to have to be perfect, I can just throw."
He also said he was glad it now relieved some of the pressure his teammates were under at the same time with him. "Everybody's been talking about being nervous and not wanting it hit to them."
The artificial playing surface at Big League Dreams also came into play, although Perry stopped short of saying it adversely affected his performance.
"There's hardly any rubber and I lost a bit of velocity and threw more off-speed," he admitted.
And of the base-hit, he remarked, "It was jam shot. If it got more of the barrel it would have been a routine flyball and a no-hitter."
The outing is sure to have impressed the 4-5 scouts who were in attendance, according to Maxwell coach Eric Lay, who appreciates the notoriety the Panthers have been receiving.
"I've had tons of coaches calling," the coach said, referring to his entire team. "Sure you hear the stuff about 'What division do they play in,' and whether they can do it against strong teams. I think we've answered that in the last few days."
Of Perry's ability to handle the ever-increasing pressure, Lay said, "I was glad to see him come out like that and perform against a good team. He wanted the ball."
Wanting the ball is nothing new for Perry, according to his grandfather John Troughton.
"I'm disappointed he couldn't get (the fifth no-hitter), but I'm proud more than I can describe. I've been watching him since he was five, and I was his first coach when he was four, before he got into tee-ball."
He attributes Perry's success to lots of hard work and knowing the game. "His game has gotten stronger and he's 'baseball smart.'"
Dennis Perry, Steven's father, also sensed the relief in his son.
"It's been pretty crazy the last couple days. I think he was pretty relieved to give up that hit."
The elder Perry believes that Steven has improved from playing American Legion ball, but also because of his coaching. "The most credit goes to his coaches."
And now with the prospect of state record behind them, it can now return to "business as usual" for the Panthers, and that business has been winning.
Contact Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or email@example.com.