History was made on Tuesday night as three Muckdog pitchers combined to throw the first perfect game in club history and only the fourth all-time in the New York-Penn League.
After his disappointing opening day start, Gabriel Castellanos was ready to right the ship and get Batavia its first win of the season.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers came into the game hitting .256 as a team, good for sixth in the New York-Penn League.
Castellanos was sharp, confident and had all his pitches going to keep the hard-hitting Scrappers off balance all night.
“I was able to execute all my pitches, it was a team effort,” he said.
Castellanos would need just 35 pitches to get through the first nine batters of the game. Of the first nine batters he faced, Castellanos was able to strikeout six of them, four of which were looking.
In his previous start against the Auburn Doubledays, Castellanos only made it through three and two-thirds innings while allowing five runs on five hits. On Tuesday it was a different story.
After striking out the side in third, Castellanos would strike out two of three batters in the fourth and fifth innings, bringing his game total to 10 strikeouts.
Gabriel Castellanos poses with his game ball after the Muckdogs complete their first perfect game in club history on Tuesday night. Photo taken by Stephen Ognibene.
“He had all his pitches going. He threw strikes and got ahead of hitters and finished them,” Manager Angel Espada said.
If there was a moment in the game where the perfect game was in doubt, it was definitely in the sixth inning.
D’vone McClure would fly out to center to begin the inning. Nate Winfrey, who has yet to collect a hit this season, was able to work the count to 0-3.
Instead of making Castellanos throw a strike, Winfrey hacked at the 0-3 pitch and flew out to centerfielder Stone Garrett.
Castellanos would strike out Silento Sayles to finish the inning.
Heading into the seventh inning, Castellanos had only thrown 71 pitches, but being it's so early in the season and the fact that it's minor league baseball, many were wondering how long they would let him go.
Castellanos would again work a perfect seventh inning, striking out Mark Mathias and putting his final tally at 12 strikeouts on 86 pitches.
“That’s the minor leagues. We have pitching counts. We have caps on innings,” Espada said.
“He gave us his all and we pushed him to as far as we could.”
Brett Lilek would make his season debut in the eighth by striking out the side. Lilek’s first batter he faced was no walk in the park.
Scrapper DH Anthony Santander, who is hitting .550 this season, led off the eighth inning and seemed out matched by 6’4” lefty. Lilek was able to punch him out on four pitches.
Steve Farnworth came in for the save in the ninth, but it was definitely not a drama-free ninth inning.
McClure would lead off the inning by drilling the second pitch he saw toward the gap between first and second. First baseman Eric Fisher was able to tip it with his glove toward second; Giovanny Alfonzo was able to scamper to pick it up and throw it to Franworth who was covering first.
Farnworth would strike out Winfrey and then finish the game by getting Sayles to ground out to shortstop.
First baseman Eric Fisher (29) stretches to catch a ball in the bottom of the ninth inning while Scrappers left-fielder Silento Sayles (9) runs to first. Photo taken by Stephen Ognibene.
“It’s not easy to come out of the bullpen and do what they did,” Espada said.
Batavia’s lone run of the game came in the second inning when Korey Dunbar would double, followed by a Taylor Munden double. Dunbar would score from second making it 1-0 and all the runs the Muckdog pitchers would need.
Dunbar would finish the game 2-for-2 with a double and Anfernee Seymour would go 2-for-4 in the win.
Each hitter for the Scrappers ended the game with at least one strikeout.
“You can’t describe it,” Espada said. “It came at a great moment for this group of kids.”
The Muckdogs celebrate the perfect game and thier first win on Tuesday night. Photo taken by Stephen Ognibene.
The Muckdogs are on the road for their next six games but return to Dwyer for a three-game series against Mahoning Valley starting on July 1 at 7:05 p.m.