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Mason Hazelwood records immaculate inning against Y-D

by KJ Edelman, 06-16-2019

Mason Hazelwood records immaculate inning against Y-D

Mason Hazelwood ended his outing “a little bit ticked off” with a pair of pinch hitters. But he didn’t know the feat he’d just accomplished.

When he struck out Jake Suddleson, Hazelwood, a left-handed pitcher from Kentucky, exchanged a few words with manager Tom Holliday and walked to the bullpen. As he was greeted by Haydn King (UNLV), his mood flipped.

Unbeknownst to Hazelwood, he had just thrown an immaculate inning — nine pitches, three strikeouts.

“I honestly didn’t even think about it until Haydn said it,” Hazelwood said. “It kinda just happened.”

In a game dominated by Anglers (4-1) pitching, Hazelwood stole the show in Chatham’s 7-3 win over the Red Sox (2-2) in his final frame of work. The sophomore blanked two pinch hitters and the nine-hole hitter with nine straight strikes. The lefty finished with six strikeouts on one earned run while being credited for the win.

“You start to wonder why he didn’t have more success during the regular season,” Holliday said. “Under these lights he looks like he’s throwing 10 mph faster.”

The dominant pitching of Chatham — one that entered Saturday’s game with a streak of 24 consecutive innings without an earned run — continued with Kolby Kubichek (Texas), Hazelwood’s roommate. He threw four innings with no hits to a team that averaged seven runs a game to start the season.

“You watch people watch batting practice because they took a really good BP and looked like a strong offensive team,” Holliday said. “And then you look up and they’re getting no-hit. How does that happen? It happens from ignoring it.”

Hazelwood continued the hitless streak through the fifth inning. But following a five-run bottom of the fifth that ensured a win for the lefty, Hazelwood allowed a single to right field.

The lefty looked to the bullpen after the hit and tipped his hat to Kubichek.

“I felt bad about it after I gave up the hit. That’s what was on my mind the whole time when they got one on me,” Hazelwood said.

He got out of a bases loaded jam with two consecutive strikeouts, and ran out to the mound for one more inning in the seventh. That’s when his perfect inning began.

Jake Palmer fouled off the first pitch of the inning, and after a called strike, he swung at a fastball for Hazelwood’s third-straight set down. Similar to Palmer, Riley Tirotta fouled his first pitch, but missed contact on two-in-a-row.

“When he’s good, he’s working ahead and throwing strikes,” pitching coach Dennis Cook said. “He’s a great strike-getter.”

After six strikes, Hazelwood talked with Cook. Hazelwood was being aggressive and working ahead in counts, but Cook wanted him to elongate his arm on his slider — the pitch Hazelwood said he came to Chatham to work on. He told him to aim to a right-handed hitter’s back foot.

Hazelwood was close to an immaculate inning before during the 2018 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game, but it took him 11 pitches to strikeout three. On Saturday, without knowing in the moment, he got it done.

Two fastballs made it 0-2 to Suddleson, and Hazelwood closed with a third one to fan him and finish the flawless frame.

"They were taking their precious time in the box, so I tried to speed them up as much as I could,” Hazelwood said. “And I said ‘Here it is, hit it.’”

Cook didn’t realize the feat until postgame interviews. Same with Holliday. They were focused on the no-hitter, like Hazelwood, who wanted to make up for it in his final inning.

“I tried as much as I could,” Hazelwood said. “...My way of apologizing for it.”