Ron Brooks has seen a lot in his 33 years as head coach of the Shadle Park baseball team. But he doesn’t think he had ever witnessed a perfect game thrown by a prep player.
Until March 28.
That’s when senior Justin Solt completed the rare achievement.
Solt tossed his masterpiece against Ferris in a 14-0 game shortened to five innings because of the 10-run rule.
The Highlanders (8-4, 8-2 Greater Spokane League), who led 4-0 after four innings, put up 10 runs in the top of the fifth to cement the win.
Solt (4-0) collected nine strikeouts and went 3 for 4 with a triple and four RBIs.
Not only does a perfect game represent pitching excellence, but it also encompasses defensive effort, as reaching by error is a component of a perfect game.
Solt said he’s thrown “a few” no-hitters in his life, but never a perfect game.
“Usually, I’m a little wild and I’ll walk a guy or two, but that day I was super efficient and I didn’t even get to a single three-ball count,” he said. “It was just awesome.
“My fastball was living on the outside. I could pretty much spot that all day. My slider as well, I could pretty much control that anywhere and get them to chase it so just everything was working.”
There’s an ages-old tradition that says if a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter or perfect game no one in the dugout is supposed to talk about it for fear of jinxing the pitcher. Solt said his teammates played along.
“They were completely quiet,” he said. “No one wanted to bring it up or anything. I tried not to think about it.”
Solt admitted that in the fifth inning he realized that no one had reached base against him.
“I realized, like, ‘This game is going quick and no one’s been on.’ So yeah, I thought about it a little but I tried to not let it get to me. I didn’t want to let it affect me, get me off from grinding and throwing strikes.”
Brooks is pleased with what his team has been able to accomplish despite a ton of rainouts and other adversity early in the season.
“This has been a fun group,” Brooks said. “A lot of these guys, I’ve been here so long I coached their dads. But they’re a fun group. They’re very positive. We’ve had to learn to rally together. They’re learning how to respond when things happen. You do this for a while it’s hard to have a favorite, but I really am pleased with how we’re playing right now.”
Shadle’s been winning on the strength of its pitching. In addition to Solt, on Thursday Donovan Meadows allowed just two hits with 11 strikeouts in a 5-1 win over Lewis and Clark (2-10, 1-9).
On Friday, in a showdown against undefeated and first-place Mt. Spokane (13-0, 11-0), Griffin Bacon struck out seven over six innings, but the Wildcats scratched out runs in the first and sixth and sophomore Stuart Flesland tossed six shutout innings to hold off Shadle 2-0.
“We’ve had these kids back from last year, so they’ve done a great job for us,” Brooks said. “We’re getting some timely hitting and we’re playing together a lot better defensively. So, who’s to say what happens at the end of the day, but I’m very pleased with how we’re playing right now.”
Great Northern League
Pullman leads the league at 3-0, but weather has kept the Greyhounds to just five games overall (3-2). Jake Wells struck out eight in an 11-9 win in the second game of a doubleheader sweep over Clarkston on April 1, and Mike Peterson collected seven Ks in a complete-game shutout of Cheney (5-7, 0-4) on Thursday. Clarkston (6-3, 2-2) has league wins over Cheney and West Valley. Brandon Ellibee blasted a two-run shot in the win over Cheney on March 30. West Valley (8-4, 2-2) swept a doubleheader from Cheney on April 1 but lost to East Valley (1-4, 1-0) 2-1 on Tuesday.
Chewelah (6-2, 4-0), and Freeman (7-2, 4-0) remain undefeated in league. Chewelah’s Ryder Robison struck out eight and scattered three in a complete-game 5-2 win over Colville (1-4, 0-3) on March 30. Robison knocked in two in a 4-3 win over Riverside the next day. Freeman shut out Lakeside (1-8, 0-4) 10-0 on Tuesday in a combined five-inning no-hitter by McKabe Cottrell, who struck out nine, and Koby Kent and beat Medical Lake 18-0 on Friday.
Kettle Falls (11-0, 6-0) leads the Northeast 2B North, while Asotin (7-2, 4-0) tops the South.. … Colfax’s Cal Gregory crafted a perfect game in the second game of a doubleheader sweep over Lind-Ritzville/Sprague on Friday. … Almira/Coulee-Hartline (8-0, 6-0) leads the Northeast 1B by one game over Odessa-Harrington (8-2, 4-0).
Lake City is off to a 5-2 start after shutting out Sandpoint 10-0 on Thursday. The Timberwolves start league play with a doubleheader in Lewiston (6-1) on Saturday. … Coeur d’Alene (6-2) beat East Valley 11-2 on April 6. The Vikings start league play Saturday with a doubleheader at Post Falls (5-3). The Trojans swept a doubleheader over Lakeland on April 8.