Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint has seen almost everything that can happen in a baseball game even in its first weekend open. In the first two days of the PG/EC Invitational fans have witnessed a tie ballgame, a grand slam, a 1-0 game, pitcher’s throwing 90 mph, an inside-the-park home run, a player hitting two home runs in one game, and even a no-hitter. But, there is one thing that is so rare in baseball that it would make sense for it to not happen at LakePoint for a very long time. That, of course, is a perfect game.
A perfect game is so rare that only 23 MLB pitchers have ever thrown one. According to SBnation.com, “an average pitcher facing a lineup of average hitters has a .000983 percent chance of pitching a perfect game.” Even though those odds are for nine inning games and amateur travel ball games only last seven innings, it would be a safe bet to never expect on any given day for any given game that a pitcher would throw one.
This is exactly the reason why what happened today on Field 14 at LakePoint is something that is worth making a big deal about. Sticking with the trend of impressive things occurring this weekend, one pitcher took it upon himself to provide the park with its first ever perfect game.
Nick Neidert, of Team Elite Prime, retired every single batter he faced in the team’s pool play game in the 17u PG/EC Invite. If it were not impressive enough that no base runner reached first base against him, something to keep in mind is the fact that the game started at 8:00 am. While most people were still asleep enjoying their summer vacation, Neidert was doing something that most pitchers spend their whole careers trying to do.
“It’s special because not every time you go out there you pitch that well,” Neidert commented. “So, I was just thankful that everything was working.”
Neidert is not new to being recognized and showing success on the baseball field. He is currently ranked as the 135th best prospect in the 2015 class, as well as the number 17 best player in the state of Georgia. Last fall, he played with Team Elite in the highly competitive 2013 Perfect Game WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, Florida. He also has been invited and will be attending the Perfect Game National Showcase that is set for June 12-16 in Fort Myers, Florida. Even with the impressive resume, a perfect game is something that sets a guy apart from even the great players. And, in a weekend filled with many memorable moments, Neidert’s feat will definitely go down as the most impressive.
“It’s awesome because no one has done it before [at LakePoint],” Neidert added. “It’s just special knowing that I’m the first one to do it.”
When all was said and done, Team Elite Prime won the game 10-0 in five innings. Although, the game did not last the complete seven innings because of the run-rule, Neidert, who has committed to play at the University of South Carolina upon graduation next year, was magnificent. Neidert’s catcher did not need much variety when calling pitches. Of the 59 pitches he threw in the game, he threw one curveball; one slider, one change-up, and the rest were fastballs that consistently sat between 86-88 mph, while also touching 89 mph. Assistant coach Dave Stephenson raved about his pitcher’s outing.
“Nick did a great job establishing the fastball, and he may have thrown a couple breaking balls and a couple of change-ups, but the fastball was working.”
The complete game for Neidert was also extremely beneficial for his team in setting them up for the rest of the tournament. In tournaments like these, the team that comes out on top is usually the one that has the most pitcher’s available to throw when bracket play starts. Teams hope their starters can go deep into games in pool play, so they do not have to burn their relief pitchers and can use them in the single elimination games.
“It was huge,” Stephenson said when asked about the benefit of Neidert’s quality start. “We needed somebody to come in and go the distance in a game so we could save some pitching for later in the tournament.
“When you get in these tournaments that you could play 8 or 9 games, you got to save pitching. Much to the [dismay] of some of the guys that are waiting to pitch, they’ll see their time.”
With the win, the Team Elite Prime moved to 2-0, and they have yet to give up a single run. It seems certain that the chances they will advance to the bracket play portion of the tournament are high. This fact sits very well with Neidert.
“It’s awesome because our goal was to win this tournament. And, to know we are probably going to be advancing, it’s awesome to know we can make a run at this thing.”
The last obstacle they have to overcome to achieve a perfect record in pool play is the second game of their double-header today against West Baseball. The team looks primed to complete the pool sweep, but they are well aware that no game should be taken lightly.
“I think we just [need to] keep doing what we are doing,” Stephenson stressed. “Last night, was a little 1-0 game, but we pulled it out. Today we played much better, and we are starting to click a little bit. So, I think we will be fine.”
With more pitching performances that mirror the outing that Neidert put on, Team Elite Prime will undoubtedly be in contention for the title come Monday. If it came down to deciding what is more important to Neidert between striving for a perfect game and just getting a win, he feels that just winning in general is better “because you help your team out. As long as we win, that’s what probably every pitcher strives for.” Having that kind of attitude in the dugout will be essential as Team Elite Prime prepare for a run at the championship.