A Gatorade shower never felt so good.
With command of his fastball and teammates doing their part, Saturday proved to be an unforgettable day for Devin Smeltzer.
Just hours after Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals was nearly perfect and settled for a no-hitter, the 2014 Bishop Eustace Prep graduate did the same.
Pitching for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, the left-hander threw the first nine-inning no-hitter in the Cape Cod Baseball League since 2010. Smeltzer was nearly perfect as well, a tough two-out walk in the seventh his lone blemish in a 5-0 shutout of the Harwich Mariners.
“It was just one of those days when everything was working,” said Smeltzer, who will be a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University this fall. “I just tried to stay as efficient as possible and stayed ahead in the count. I wasn’t really tired at all.
“It was an awesome experience. I had my stuff working, but I couldn’t have done it without the guy behind the plate (Arden Pabst of Georgia Tech) and the defense behind me. It took everyone to get it done. It was a great team accomplishment.”
The no-hitter was the first since Jordan Pries of Yarmouth-Dennis accomplished the feat against Orleans in June 2010. There was a combined no-hitter in 2013 by three Cotuit pitchers, while Jeff Thompson of Bourne threw a six-inning no-no in 2012.
Matt Daly was last Hyannis Harbor pitcher to throw a no-hitter, that coming in 2007 against Wareham.
“It was awesome,” Smeltzer said. “I got bombarded by the team and afterwards I was doing an interview in the outfield and got an orange Gatorade shower.
“I’m blessed to be here. It’s been an awesome experience.”
Smeltzer needed just 91 pitches. He struck out the side in the third inning, and needed five pitches to get out of the fourth and seven in the fifth.
Smeltzer finished things off with a 10-pitch eighth and 11-pitch ninth.
The only player to reach base was Notre Dame’s Cavan Biggio, who walked on a 3-2 pitch.
“It was a questionable call, pretty much knee-high right down the middle,” Smeltzer recalled. “Everyone kind of lost their mind. It was clearly a strike.
“My catcher and I worked very well together, and the whole game the defense was behind me. Errol Robinson (Ole Miss) at shortstop made three or four huge plays to help save it.”
Smeltzer had a no-hitter as a junior at Bishop Eustace, stopping Seneca in a five-inning game.
In his first season of college baseball, the two-time All-South Jersey selection went 1-4 with a 6.97 ERA in eight starts.
“I didn’t have the greatest year, but the coaches told me coming in that they were going to throw me to the wolves,” said Smeltzer, who was picked by the San Diego Padres in the 33rd round of the 2014 MLB Draft. “They threw me on weekends the first few weeks until we got into our conference schedule. Then I threw against the big schools – Illinois, Nebraska, Florida State.
“They threw me out there; it was a learning experience to see how I would react. It was frustrating but I never gave up and rolled over. It all paid off at the end of the year. I finished real strong and I kept it rolling into the Cape Cod League.”
Smeltzer won each of his two starts for Hyannis Harbor and has a 1.22 ERA. He’s struck out 13 and walked just one. He’s scheduled to pitch again Saturday.
“The experience, the atmosphere and pitching in front of all the fans and scouts is great exposure for my career,” he said. “I just have to keep working hard and making the best of it. I’m having a blast.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2424; firstname.lastname@example.org