Bridgewater, New Jersey – One of the rarest feats in all of sports is throwing a perfect game. It requires precision, stamina, and a laser sharp focus good enough to withstand all nine innings without allowing a hit, walk or error.
The defense must be stout, and the pitcher must be on their “A” game throughout each inning. There have been 23 perfect games in MLB history, with Felix Hernandez throwing the last one in 2012 as a member of the Seattle Mariners against the Tampa Bay Rays.
On Friday night, Somerset Patriots starter Rick Teasley was as perfect as he could be for his nine innings of work.
Teasley entered the game riding high after a bounce back performance in High Point, North Carolina where he allowed just four hits and one run in five innings. He settled in nicely in the first, striking out Long Island Duck Infielder T.J Rivera to end the inning.
From there, Teasley continued to cruise, getting most of his outs via the groundout and strikeout. With each passing inning, the hit column remained the same for the Ducks. It read zero. Three innings went by, then five, then seven. The pent-up emotion in the crowd was real. It was in the atmosphere, and over time fans started to take notice as to what was happening.
“I try to throw a perfect game every time I pitch. I knew early I had it. I think near the third inning I thought, ‘hey I might do this.’ I just have to get through the order two more times,” Teasley said.
The game started to have the makings of playoff feel, where every pitch fans inch a little closer to the edge of their seat, hoping and praying the ball bounces the Patriots’ way.
As Teasley continued to throw up zeroes, so did the Ducks, allowing the Patriots to just four hits total for the game.
Teasley went about his business, taking his even-keeled demeanor back to the dugout and finding his usual spot on the bench. He was left alone, with not a peep from any of his teammates in between innings.
The defense was a stronghold behind Teasley the entire game. With two outs in the eighth, Ducks Catcher Hector Sanchez ripped a ball down the third base line, only to have Will Kengor make a diving play to his right, and fire to first to end the inning.
“I mean, guys were making unreal plays out there and that was exciting. I just kept trying to remind myself to just throw relaxed and execute pitches,” said Teasley.
The ninth came, with three batters in the way for his first perfect game. If completed, Teasley’s performance would be the first perfect game in Atlantic League history. 24 batters had been up, and 24 had been sent back to the dugout with nothing to show for.
First batter up in the ninth was John Apostolo. A sharp groundout to shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez made it one out. Next batter was Daniel Fields, who struck out, leaving just one more out to record.
The entire crowd on their feet, with just one out to go. A weak dribbler up the third base line sprung Teasley into action, pouncing quickly and firing to first to get the final out of the inning.
27 up, 27 down.
Teasley rejoiced, giving high fives to his catcher Mike Ohlman and walking off with a gleaming smile that resonated throughout the ballpark. He walked into the dugout and was immediately swarmed by his teammates and coaches.
His night was done, but the game continued.
In the top of the 10th the Ducks struck first, scoring on a chopping base hit through the left side of the infield to take the lead at 1-0. The Patriots went down quiet in the bottom half, falling to the Ducks by that score.
“It was a fun game out there definitely. When things are working that way, it’s obviously much more fun. It was a great team effort,” Teasley stated following the loss.
Teasley’s performance was nothing short of magical and something that should be recognized for years to come. His final stat line read – nine innings, seven strikeouts, no walks, no hits and 27 batters retired. A masterful performance for the ages.