Great energy at Huntington Park last night
The crowd at Huntington Park on Wednesday night was enthusiastic from the start. The beer was cold, the chicken fingers were crisp and the park's staff had trapped the raccoon that was apparently loose behind one of the concession stands. It was a great evening for baseball. And it immediately got better.
In the first inning, the Clippers scored two runs against the Louisville Bats. By the third, they cemented their lead, thanks to a homer by third baseman Giovanny Urshela-which also ensured everyone in the stands won a free pulled pork sandwich from City Barbeque-and put 4-0 on the board. The heat continued and rather quickly became the whopping final 13-0 victory. But the hits and homeruns were nothing compared to starting pitcher Tyler Cloyd's performance.
By about the seventh inning, some of the crowd began to realize what was happening. But those in the know were afraid of explicitly telling those who hadn't picked up on it yet, for fear of jinxing the whole thing.
"Do you know what's happening?" a man sitting behind me generally asked everyone within earshot. Some stoic nods, some automatic laughs. "No? Any of you baseball fans?"
"What? What's going on?" his girlfriend asked. I turned around to look at him. I hadn't put it together yet.
"I won't say till after the game," he said, still beaming at the field.
What was happening was that Clippers pitcher Tyler Cloyd was close to pitching only the second perfect game in Columbus history. Cloyd narrowly missed a perfect game-only because he hit batter Donnie Murphy with the ball at the top of the ninth-and instead pitched a nine-inning one-man no-hitter, the first in the International League since 2010 (pitched by then-Gwinnett Braves pitcher Todd Redmond, also against Louisville). North Carolina's Bulls pitched the first no-hitter of the IL this season, but they did it with two pitchers.
Cloyd, who taught Columbus Monthly how to throw the perfect pitch in the June issue, pitched all nine innings himself, facing the minimum possible 27 batters and throwing a mere 88 pitches to lockdown the no-hitter. He threw 59 strikes, and struck out six hitters.
As soon as the game ended-thanks to a simple lineout to second base-everyone erupted twice as loud, once for the huge win and again for Cloyd's game. Now it was clear: NO-HITTER! read the outfield screen and the announcer, already having a very fun night, made sure every one of the 10,100 attendees knew what had just happened.