Palo Alto Sport Shop needed a victory and some help to wrap up a berth in the Palo Alto Little League playoffs, so manager Joe Adams was preoccupied to say the least. He was so focused on the game that he completely overlooked a little historic feat being made.
On the mound for Sport Shop was Jason Huang, who quietly was going about his business against Bike Connection on Wednesday night at Hoover Park in Palo Alto. Sport Shop needed a victory and a loss by Hengehold Truck Rentals to clinch the final playoff seed, so not everyone was aware of what Huang was on the way to accomplishing -- certainly not Adams.
"I was so focused on the game that I actually didn't know Jason had a perfect game going," Adams confessed.
Jonas Haro, an assistant coach for Bike Connection alerted Adams to Huang's ongoing perfection and that he might want to contact a local paper should Huang "complete this thing."
"I was like, 'wait, what thing?'" Adams recalled. "And then it dawned on me that Bike hadn't had a single baserunner the entire game. Honestly, I got really nervous as I was signaling the pitches to my catcher."
To compound matter, Huang had thrown 71 pitches heading into the top of the sixth and Little League rules limit a pitcher to just 85.
Huang struck out the first batter in the final inning on four pitches. Huang went to a 3-1 count on the next hitter, forced a 3-2 count with a strike and then registered another strikeout two pitches later. Huang was down to one batter and was just three pitches from his limit of 85.
John Picker came to the plate with a chance to end the perfect game, but Huang got Picker on a comebacker to the mound on his 83rd pitch. Huang fielded the grounder calmly and threw to first baseman Thomas Crouch for the final out as Sport Shop won, 5-0.
Huang had faced18 batters and retired them all – nine by groundout, eight by strikeout and one on a fly ball. He walked none. Adams was told it was the first perfect game throw in a Palo Alto Little League contest since 2004. Making the game even more perfect was the fact Hengehold was able to field only eight players for its game that night and lost by forfeit – giving Sport Shop the final berth in the city tournament, which begins June 4.
Sport Shop and Bike Connection were scoreless until the bottom of the third when Sport Shop scored two runs on a walk, fielder's choice, stolen base, error and triple. Sport Shop scored three more times in the fifth while chasing Bike Connection's starter.