How vain it is to sit down to write when you haven't stood up to live?
Updated NCAA Pac
12 11 College Baseball Standings (as of 4/30/12)
(Colorado discontinued its team in 1980 thanks to Title IX)
My nerves were officially on edge in the 7th inning. To the disapproval of my superstitious conscience, I tweeted about the no-hitter in progress. All I could think about soon after was how I just potentially jinxed the poor kid. There is no apple+Z in the twitterverse, no undo button to retract a statement gone public. He’d have to override my social media hex by himself.
Taking on the Portland Pilots at Volcano Stadium (in Keizer, OR) last night, the #8-ranked Oregon Ducks’ freshman pitcher Jordan Spencer from Beaverton, OR was making just his third start of the season. As he made his way out to the mound for the bottom of the 9th, I heard the stat geeks—working for the team—in front of me chirping about his rising pitch count. It was at 97 with three outs left. His arm wasn’t going to solely carry him at this point, poise and adrenaline would have to serve up the knockout punch.
I swiftly googled his high school statistics—how have I not heard about this young stud? The answer—he wasn’t recruited as a pitcher. Sure, why not, throw a no-hitter then why don’t you. Evolving to better suit the team…that’s what team is all about, right?
Fastball, change-up, fastball change-up. Location, change of speed, location. It was a masterful showcase. He was fierce, he worked quickly, masking the bulk of his scowling face with his glove as he triggered his windup.
With two outs, the entire stadium rose to their feet. All 1,158 of us. I wish it had been a capacity crowd, but yet again, I’m glad it wasn’t. I had been sitting directly behind home plate, a few rows in front of a television camera capturing the moment.
The camera guy didn’t seem to care that I was partially blocking his view, almost as if he too were saying screw it, let’s all just enjoy this. He stepped away from behind the camera to watch right along with the rest of us. Even Pilots fans donning their Husky-esque purple garb rose to their feet, not necessarily to root on the opposition, but as a sign of respect for the moment. It’s an American pastime thing. While Duck fans clasped their hands in sports prayer, those in purple stood cross-armed ready to watch their team enter the wrong side of history (like it or not).
When the final out was smacked on a frozen rope to the second baseman, jubilation ensued as if the Ducks accomplished much more than simply taking care of business in an exhibition game versus an inferior opponent. It was a special feeling, a spectacle that has become a rarity in college *PING* baseball.
I felt like a little leaguer all over again. A no-hitter is something I had never witnessed in all my years watching/playing the sport. Thousands of games. I felt like I put a tally on my bucket list to rest.
It was a proud moment watching Spencer hop into the crowd, hugging friends and family (even strangers) as he dashed his way toward the press box for an unprecedented interview. He passed me in the concourse and I gave the 6-footer some daps as he galloped toward the dangling microphone. It was the first no-hitter he had ever thrown in his life, the first in school history since the program’s reinstatement. I snapped a photo as he spoke into a makeshift audio setup. It was the final action I was able to make before my smartphone died.
What a great evening. The Ducks got the win, I saw the first no-hitter in my entire life (perhaps the last one I’ll ever see), and I even managed to convert a Beaver into a Duck in the process. Three words sum this one up: Won the day.
Cheers & Go Ducks!
*top image via statesmanjournal*