It was a perfect day for a Xaverian High School pitcher.
Sophomore and starting pitcher for the school’s JV “A” Team Doug Johnson had it all working on Thursday, April 13 as he threw the first perfect game of his career against St. Edmund.
The game, which was played at Gerritsen Beach, with an early start of 9:30 a.m., had less than ideal conditions.
“It was real cold,” the 16-year-old Xaverian Clippers pitcher said. “And as we were warming up, I was feeling good that day. Everything I was throwing was good and as I continued to warm up, I felt that it was going to be a good game but I didn’t imagine I would throw a perfect game.”
Johnson struck out 12 batters that day, threw 84 pitches in seven innings and retired all 21 batters faced. It wasn’t an easy feat as the starter described St. Edmund as a tough team. “They’re good competition and a solid team and they had a really good lineup that day,” he said.
Although Johnson, who has been playing the game since he was four, has had a solid start to the season, secondary and primary pitches were working for him. “That day my change-up was working very well,” he said. “Normally, I don’t have a great change-up but that day it was really on. That’s how I felt and knew I was going to have a good game. I throw fastballs very well. It’s probably my best pitch.”
Of course no perfect games are possible without the help of solid defense from a starter’s teammates. This game was no different. “I think it was the fourth or fifth inning, one of the batters hit the ball real hard and far and my leftfielder (Kyle Gordon) made a great play,” Johnson said. “He pretty much saved it for me.” Shortstop Aiden Ramos also helped out defensively.
Because of the team scoring a whopping eight runs, Johnson had all the run support he needed to win the game. However, he didn’t even know until the late innings that he was knocking on perfection.
“I actually wasn’t even aware I was throwing it until the sixth inning when one of my teammates told me that so far no one had even hit the ball,” he said, adding that he didn’t get nervous until the final three batters. “I was still a little relaxed because I felt like it was still my job to go out and pitch and get us the win, but in the last inning I really started getting nervous because I was facing the top of their lineup and their best batters.”
His last out was a strikeout as his teammates ran out to the mound, and mobbed and congratulating him. “First thing, I was very proud of myself and happy,” he said of the feat. “It’s a rare occasion when you get to throw a game like that. I’ve never thrown a perfect game before and it’s definitely something you should be happy with yourself about.”
Coach William Daly, whose team is 7-1 and in first place in its division, was proud of the accomplishment. “It’s not easily done because we played on a tough field where it could’ve been a bad hop at any time, but defensively we played well,” he said. “I’ve been coaching 23 years in JV, and this is my first perfect game as far as coaching so it’s not an easy process. You always have your bad hop single or your walk or someone hit by a pitch or a walk. We congratulate him. It’s a job well done.”