COVINGTON — No hits, no walks and no errors equals perfection.
And that’s what senior hurler Jake Hamilton and the Covington Buccaneers were able to accomplish on Thursday – recording the first perfect game in school history in a 6-0 victory over Tri-Village in front of the hometown fans.
And as the game went on, Hamilton had no thoughts about pitching a perfect game.
“I didn’t even think about it,” Hamilton said. “I just want to go out there and do my best for my teammates.”
And even afterwards, Hamilton had only one thought — his father Matt Hamilton, who died unexpectedly in 2019.
“That’s the only thing I was thinking about,” Hamilton said. “Him, looking down from above.”
And no on can understand that better than Covington baseball coach Andy Johnson, who lost his father Scott at the same age.
“That is something (Jake thinking about his father),” Johnson said. “I understand. I have been in his shoes.”
Hamilton was in a zone on the hill as he mowed down 12 of the 21 batters he faced with strikeouts. Tri-Village only put the ball in play nine times in the contest and every time the Buccaneer defense was there to make the play.
After teammate Jenson Wagoner hurled a two-hit, 90 pitch shutout against Newton Tuesday, Hamilton threw a 90-pitch perfect game Thursday.
“We had 25 strikeouts in two games,” Johnson said. “This was a huge week for us.”
On Thursday, there were some great defensive plays turned in by the Buccs to assist Hamilton on his historic, perfect night.
Carter Maxson made an amazing catch over his shoulder on a hard ball he had to chase down in left-center.
Jake Dilley knocked down an extremely tough hopper at third and tossed a dart to Jensen Wagoner to beat the runner by a half step at first for an out.
Kody Nelson made a diving snag as second base to steal yet another potential base hit from the Patriots.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Hamilton said. “I knew my teammates had my back. Carter (Maxson) and Kody (Nelson) both made great plays.”
“I thought the ball to Carter (Maxson) was going to be the one that did it (end the perfect game),” Johnson said. “And that was a great play by Kody (Nelson).”
Then, in the top of the seventh, David Robinson made a running catch in shallow right field while looking directly into the sun.
“I knew David (Robinson) was going to make that catch,” Hamilton said.
Johnson praised Robinson.
“At our field, right field is the toughest position because you are looking right into the sun,” Johnson said. “David (Robinson) hung in there all night. He didn’t back off and made a couple nice plays. I knew he would make that catch. He understood what was at stake.”
Outside of that and a few routine plays, it was all Hamilton hitting the glove of senior catcher Cooper Jay as the duo kept Tri-Village guessing all night by mixing up speeds and hitting spots.
“I pretty much just threw fastballs until the fifth inning,” Hamilton said. “Then, coach started giving me some curves because they were looking for fastballs.”
The game was scoreless heading into the home half of the third when Covington put the first points on the board on an RBI double by Dilley to score Job Morgan.
Covington extended the lead in the fourth as Avery Rench drew a walk and scored when Morgan reached on an error. Jay then connected on a two-run double and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Wagoner.
The Buccaneers then put their final run on the board in the bottom of the sixth on a base hit by Wes Gooding that scored Morgan from third.
Covington racked up nine hits on the night withJay going 3-for-4 andGooding going 2-for-3.
The win improves Covington’s record to 4-2 on the season and 3-0 in the Cross County Conference.
The Buccs travel to Lehman on Saturday and follow with a huge game at Minster on Monday.
“This was huge for us to get two wins like this,” Hamilton said. “That’s our goal, to go unbeaten in the conference.”
And you can be sure Matt Hamilton is smiling as watches from above what his son and the Buccs are accomplishing.