Jackson Perry made a sudden relief appearance in the first inning Tuesday (March 10) and never came out.
The Jefferson senior fired a no-hitter out of the bullpen — a baseball rarity in itself — recording all 21 outs of the game in seven innings of work in the Dragons' 5-0 home win over Stephens County March 10. He struck out nine batters and issued just two walks.
“It’s the strangest thing,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said of the circumstances of the no-hitter. “I’ve never seen that happen before.”
The Dragons’ starter, J.J. Rapp, exited after seven pitches and no outs in the first inning after experiencing arm issues.
Perry came on in relief, with the original plan being for the righthander to eat an extra inning or two. Knight said he wanted to get four pitchers work that evening.
That plan went by the wayside — in a good way for the Dragons.
“He just kept pitching and pitching and they didn’t have a hit,” Knight said. “And we’re sitting there thinking, ‘We can’t really take him out. He’s got a dang no-hitter.’”
The no-hitter wasn’t without a standout defensive play to keep it in tact. That moment belonged to freshman second baseman Bowman Horn, who fielded a ground ball up the middle in the third inning and threw over to first for the out.
“Bowman Horn made an incredible play up the middle … If not for that play it would have been a one-hitter,” Knight said. “But Jackson threw the ball very well.”
Knight said Perry’s control of his pitches and the use of his change-up were key factors in holding Stephens County hitless.
“He was throwing the ball over the plate, first thing, which has been an issue at times this year,” Knight said. “But he threw the ball over the plate and was able to throw his change-up for strikes early in the count, which made a big difference — kept them off stride.”
It all added up to a special moment for a senior member of Jefferson’s pitching staff.
“It was,” Knight said. “That was a signature moment for him. We’re very, very happy for him that he was able to do that.”