MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – All it takes is 21 outs in a row. Walks? Unacceptable. Errors in the field? Couldn't have those. Hitting a batter with a pitch? No way. And no hits. Absolutely no hits. That's the blueprint. On paper, it seems straightforward and simple. On the baseball diamond however, it's nearly impossible. And yet, on one seemingly random Tuesday afternoon in mid-April, Penn State Harrisburg played host to such an historic occurrence. On Apr. 16, freshman pitcher Derek Slagle (York Haven, Pa. / Red Land) allowed absolutely nothing. That's right. He was perfect.
We've reached the number two spot on our countdown of the ten most memorable moments of the 2012-13 Winter/Spring sports seasons. Just a little over four months ago, "Mr. Perfect" Derek Slagle became the first pitcher in school history to throw a no-hitter of any kind, let alone a perfect game.
The incredible accomplishment occurred during the Lions' 3-0 blanking of Penn College in the first game of a non-conference doubleheader. The lefty entered the top of the seventh inning needing just three outs to achieve one of the rarest feats in all of sports. He took care of the first batter by fielding a Wildcat bunt and throwing the runner out at first base. He got the second batter to fly out to centerfield before snagging a hard hit ground ball laced back up the middle and throwing out the last batter. How fitting that on a day when he was flawless on the mound, Slagle was the one to record the final out, leaving no doubt that his performance would be etched in the history books.
All three of the Lions' runs were scored in the bottom of the fifth inning. Freshman Bryan Balshy (Palmyra, Pa. / Palmyra) walked to lead off the stanza and junior Ross Baker (Hummelstown, Pa. / Lower Dauphin) followed it up by lacing a double to right field. Sophomore Cody Henry (Halifax, Pa. / Halifax) doubled to left center and drove in both runners to give the home team a 2-0 advantage. The Blue & White added to its lead when Henry scored from third thanks to an RBI groundout from freshman Garrett McCutcheon (Harrisburg, Pa. / Central Dauphin).
For his historic effort, Slagle was named the North Eastern Athletic Conference's (NEAC) Student-Athlete of the Week and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) NCAA Division III National Pitcher of the Week.
Of all the outstanding individual performances we've honored with a spot on our countdown over the past two weeks, none stood out more or will be remembered longer than Slagle standing on the mound and contradicting the old adage that "nobody's perfect."
So what is it you ask? What could have possibly upstaged the southpaw's perfect game and grabbed the number one spot on our list? No hints. I mean, come on, now. Seriously. If you've followed our countdown for this long and still haven't figured out what takes the top spot then you probably shouldn't be reading this anyway…