Dalton Grisell had 11 days to think about his season-opening start on the mound on March 14, which resulted in a 12-1 loss at Spanish Springs.
The Douglas High baseball team went on to win its next seven games, and on Tuesday afternoon, Grisell bounced back in a big way when he pitched a five-inning perfect game to win 17-0 against Hug in Reno.
The senior left-hander set down 15 straight batters, five on strikeouts, to pitch the third shutout this season for the Tigers (Kyle Johnson has the other two). Other than one relief appearance, this was his first start since losing against Spanish Springs in the season’s second game.
“I mainly wanted to redeem myself after that last start,” said Grisell, a third-year varsity veteran. “My arm felt pretty good and all my pitches were working.”
He had some good support in the field, highlighted by a diving catch of a low line drive by Cole Peck in right field. Fittingly, Peck is a pitcher who has won two games already this season.
“That was big,” Grisell said of the catch. “Right there, I knew that was a good sign.”
Coach Bruce Jacobsen observed “a lot of things have to go right to pitch a perfect game.” A hit batsman, muffed ground ball or bad throw can end a pitcher’s dream in the beat of a heart.
“It’s a cool thing to do,” Grisell shrugged.
He is the first Douglas varsity baseball pitcher in recent memory to log a perfect game, according to Jacobsen, himself a 1999 Douglas graduate (and his father, Bruce, played baseball for the Tigers in the early ‘70s).
Steve Wilcox, who coached the Douglas baseball program in the 1970s remembers one close call in May 1978 when Dan Neal pitched a no-hitter to beat Yerington, 10-0. Neal allowed one base runner when a pop fly fell between two infielders and the left-hander proceeded to pick the runner off first base. And Neal did it on the same day he broke the state single-season strikeout record held by Hug’s Rod Scurry, who later pitched seven Major League seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees.
Note: Matt Thomas, a 2011 Douglas graduate, picked up his first win for UNLV Wednesday night in a 16-6 win against North Dakota at Earl E. Wilson Stadium in Las Vegas. The junior right-hander pitched 3.1 innings, allowed one run on three hits and struck out two without surrendering a walk. Thomas is now 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA in six innings of work this season.