The slow-roller between third and short almost ruined it for Elkhorn junior pitcher Chase Smith.
Elkhorn senior shortstop Alex Calabrese charged the ball, scooped it and fired to first base across his body while on the run to gun down the Elkhorn North batter. That play helped seal Smith’s perfect game Tuesday night as Elkhorn picked up a 5-0 win. Smith struck out 11 batters and didn’t allow a single base runner while throwing 80 pitches.
“I went up and celebrated with him (Calabrese) because that was huge,” Smith said.
Smith’s excellent outing comes three days after his teammate, senior Drew Christo, a Husker baseball commit, threw a no-hitter against Omaha Bryan.
Smith, who’s in his first season playing varsity ball for Elkhorn because Covid wiped out his sophomore year, said he used his changeup and fastball the most Tuesday night. The fifth inning was when things got real for him — his teammates stopped talking to him and stayed away from him in the dugout.
“I was trying my hardest not to think about it and just keep pitching and hitting my spots,” the left-handed Smith said. “I knew right when I thought about it I was just going to get too anxious and start missing all over the place.”
The final out of the game was a swinging strike. The first person Smith remembers meeting him on the field was senior Josh Osten, who sprung toward him after the out.
“They all just kind of mosh-pitted around me,” Smith said of his teammates through a laugh. “I got one cup of water poured on me — they didn’t let us dump the Gatorade out, there was a game after ours.”
Smith also contributed offensively in the Antlers’ win, hitting an RBI double.