East Lincoln right-hander Darin Salter got the idea that something special was in the works in the fourth inning of the Mustangs’ 14-0 romp over the North Lincoln Knights on Wednesday.
Salter finished out the five-inning game and led the Mustang varsity baseball team to its second Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference victory of the season and reached a milestone few pitchers ever see — a perfect game.
“I wasn’t trying to do anything special,” Salter said. “I just wanted to go out there and throw. But around the fourth inning I realized that I was going to cruise right through it.”
Salter’s teammates, who came up big on both offense and defense, took notice too.
“They tried to go ahead and jinx me in the fourth but I sort of laughed it off and didn’t really think about it,” he said. “You’re not supposed to do that but they just all went and did it at once. They said, ‘don’t go and try to throw a no-hitter.’”
Salter’s perfect game was the second in East Lincoln (5-1, 2-0) baseball history. The first was thrown by James Grand in either the 1985 or 1986 season, according to head coach Chris Matile.
“I don’t think I ever really grabbed ahold of it until the last batter came up,” Matile said. “Everyone was getting a little antsy in there and trying to keep routines up but you could definitely tell that Darin had his good stuff. He was feeling good. He’s pitching as we expected but he was really on top of his game. He had all three pitches working and good velocity, considering the weather conditions. The whole team didn’t let the weather affect them at all. We had a lot of good energy out there and the kids were hustling around.”
Salter had a good night at the plate as well, going 2-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Danny Sullivan was 2-3 with two runs scored, Addison Parrish went 2-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored and Austin Buchanan went 1-2 with four RBIs.
“It was exciting from the get-go,” Matile said. “Our kids were up, they were amped, they were ready to go. They knew what was in front of them. They did a great job attacking, against a rival, to put themselves in a position to be 2-0 in conference play. Our kids did a great job of count-hitting. They put the ball in play and we were able to run our offense. It’s been quite some time since we’ve been able to get our kids in motion. We had some great bunts laid down. We were able to put our whole game together offensively.”
Salter recorded two strikeouts in five innings of work, and had some much-needed defensive backup from his veteran outfielders.
“In the first inning they had two right-handers who hit some slicing balls down the right field line and Garrett Young did a great job making plays on them,” Matile said. “In the fourth North Lincoln got ahold of one to deep center and Clay Hodges chased it down real well.”
Justin Norton started the game on the mound for North Lincoln and gave up seven runs on five hits in three innings.