E.A. Sports Today

Pell City perfect

Senior left-hander Hathorn fashions a perfect game against Pinson Valley with career-high 13 strikeouts

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Noah Hathorn could tell early on it was going to be a good night, but not even he could have imagined it would turn out as good as it was.

The Pell City senior left-hander experienced a pitcher’s ultimate thrill Tuesday night, throwing a perfect game in a 7-0 victory over Pinson Valley.

What made it an especially emotional night for the family is the gem came 20 years and four days after Noah’s father Cypress got the first win of his senior season at Jacksonville State the same day he learned of the sudden passing of his dad.

“It was a really cool experience, really surreal to think about how rare these are,” Cypress said. “It was like somebody else, a supernatural thing, was involved in the whole process beyond our control. It was unbelievable.”

Noah is the spitting image of his father on the mound. Lean, long, left-handed – and lights out. He threw 80 pitches, 66 for strikes, and had a career-high 13 strikeouts. He started the game with a strikeout and, fittingly, ended with a dramatic one.

“It was pretty awesome,” Noah said. “After the second inning I really knew I was going to be on. I didn’t ever think I was going to throw a perfect game or anything, but after the second inning I was really hitting my spots. I just had a feeling I was going to have a great night.”

He wasn’t the only one.

“You’d look down in the bullpen and he didn’t miss a spot,” Pell City coach Andrew Tarver said. “My assistant came up and said it’s scary he’s so good down there. Then in the second inning in the dugout our kids were mentioning it: What if he throws a no-hitter today? I’m like why are we discussing this in the second inning?”

The gem wasn’t completely without drama. Second baseman Tyler Dowdy chased down a blooper behind first base and made a catch at the kneecaps in the sixth that Noah said “without it none of that would’ve happened.” In the seventh, right-fielder Jackson Sweatt was positioned perfectly to snare a hot liner off Bo Nix’ bat and he went to 3-0 on the last batter of the game Noah before throwing three straight strikes to end the game and unleash a wave of emotion he said he had never felt before.

His teammates mobbed him at the third base line, showered him with the contents of every water bottle they could find and carried him off on their shoulders.

“After the game I couldn’t stop smiling,” Hathorn said. “As soon as I got off the field my dad and my mom met me on the field. I just bear-hugged them. My dad just picked me up. It was unbelievable. I can’t describe it.”

Noah said he was always aware of what he had in progress, but “didn’t really want to think about it too much” to stay focused on the game. His dad knew the no-hitter was going, but it didn’t dawn on him a perfect game was unfolding until after the fly out to right.

It got a tense when Noah fell behind the final hitter 3-0. But then he reached back, concentrated on hitting the mitt and got the last three strikes to close out the game.

“I couldn’t believe it at first,” Noah said. “I had no idea that it was so close together as far as the dates.

“I thought that was pretty awesome, just thinking about how everything that I did last night, how it was so positive and uplifting and something he did positive turned negative so fast and how he never really got his time to celebrate because of the situation that happened afterwards.”

But this time they celebrated together, well into the night.

On the cover: Pell City pitcher Noah Hathorn is lifted on the shoulders of his teammates after throwing a perfect game against Pinson Valley.

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