Prep pitcher takes loss in bid for fifth no-hitter
By Mitch Stacy
CLEARWATER, Fla. ó It was just one hit, but still you would have expected some reaction from pitcher Patrick Schuster. After all, he wasn’t used to giving up any at all.
The Mitchell High School ace was going for a fifth straight no-hitter Wednesday. But a screaming double over the right fielder’s head on an 0-1 count in the third inning put an end to that. Schuster simply walked around the mound, then got back on the rubber while a standing room-only crowd of more than 1,000 applauded his effort.
“I turned around and said, ‘Thank you. It’s done now, and I don’t have to worry about it anymore,’ ” a dejected Schuster said following what turned out to be his final high school game. Mitchell was eliminated by Gaither High School 9-4.
The lanky left-hander had put together a string of four no-hitters going into the district tournament game, and he had gotten through the first two innings without giving up a hit. Then came the double by Gaither’s Drew Doty.
It wasn’t the last damage done against Schuster. He worked five innings, allowing five runs ó three earned ó and three hits. He struck out five, walked five and hit three batters.
“After warming up, my arm didn’t feel as good as it did the last three games or any time I threw well,” he said. “I wasn’t hitting my spots well, and my off-speeds weren’t moving as much as they should have. I knew I was going to have to fight to stay in the game today.”
The national record for consecutive no-hitters by a high school pitcher is six.
Mitchell coach Scot Wilcox said his star pitcher might have been effected by the onslaught of media attention the past week.
The 18-year-old is ranked as the 79th best prospect ó the 42nd best high school prospect ó in the country by Baseball America and has signed with Florida. He has a fastball around 90 mph and some nasty breaking stuff delivered with the same slingshot motion. Experts say he’ll likely be a second-round pick in the June amateur draft, with the string of no-hitters improving his status only slightly.
Schuster says he’s excited to go to Florida but won’t rule out jumping right to pro ball if he goes high enough in the draft.
Schuster noted one good thing that will come out of the streak ending: he can finally shave. He had vowed to let his facial hair grow while the string was alive, and he’s been getting ribbed about the unruly patches of blond whiskers.
“I got the razor in my bag, and I’m ready to go home and get it over with,” he said.
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