ELKINS, W.Va. - Heath Hidlay threw just 49 pitches across five innings, each one of them getting him a step closer to perfection.
He got it - the hurler delivered a stellar performance as the Mifflin County American Legion baseball team stepped to 2-0 in its pool in the second day of the Hillbilly Hardball Classic tournament.
Hidlay was ahead of Severna Park, Md., all afternoon Friday on the way to a 10-0 victory, facing the statutory minimum 15 batters and putting them all away.
"It was like automatic pilot. That's as efficient a pitching performance as I've seen," said Post 287 manager Bernie Howard, who said it was just the second perfect game he's seen by a pitcher in his charge. "The most pitches he threw in an inning was 13. Everything was working for him."
Hidlay struck out seven, and got eight groundouts. He didn't do it alone though - the bats were on fire for Mifflin County, which opened the game with seven runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back.
Leading the pace for Post 287 in that frame were Lucas McKay, who hit a three-run home run, and Kyle Bodtorf, who plated two more with a triple. Shane Connahan also homered for Mifflin County, a solo shot in the third, and the team got doubles from Max Remy and Hunter Walker.
Every starter had at least a hit, Howard noted. And, he said, the fielding wasn't too shabby either.
"The fact that (Hidlay) was backed by such a strong defensive performance - everything was just aligned perfectly. We have been getting a total team effort in every area," he said.
Mifflin County's second game Friday was one of 13 that were rained out, and will be made up Sunday. Because of that, Howard said, it was unclear whether there would be a championship bracket at the end of pool play.
"Now they are using six or seven diffeent enues to play them. But still that is a lot of games," he said. "The bottom line is we're here to play baseball."
In that regard, he pointed out, at least 50 colleges were at the event looking to recruit.
Post 287 (9-2) plays Jefferson County, Md., at 11:30 a.m. today, and has a 9:30 p.m. game against Morgantown.
Notes: Regular catcher John Michael Maclay was back in Pennsylvania Friday for the Lezzer Lumber Classic all-star football game, giving little bother Isaac the chance to shine in the spotlight. Howard said other coaches weren't surprised to hear Maclay was a freshman until they found out what kind. "Isaac is one of the biggest hits of this tournament down here. They thought that he was a freshman in college," Howard said.