In 150 years, only 23 pitchers in Major League Baseball and 18 in the NAIA conference have thrown a perfect game. On Feb. 6 at Poway High School, sophomore Jason Karkenny from The Master’s College became apart of that family.
The day of his perfect game was like any other. After Friday morning chapel, Karkenny went with teammate Ty Galloway to Jimmy Deans to purchase a breakfast burrito with his favorite soda, Cactus Cooler. From there he prepared for the bus ride at 2 p.m. and headed down to San Diego Christian University to play the first night game of the season.
Warm-up for Jason began with a normal stretching routine and the usual attempt at “perfect catch” with teammate Hunter Totemeier. However, for the very first time, Karkenny and Totemeier played a perfect catch, not overthrowing one another or allowing the ball to bounce.
Karkenny struck out the first three hitters he faced. It was a pattern that would continue for eight more innings.
“I did the same thing between each inning. I would get three outs, high five teammates then proceed to my water bottle,” Karkenny said.
From there Karkenny would walk a couple steps off to the side of the dugout to be by himself, returning to cheer on his team. He put his jacket around his throwing arm to keep it warm. Walking back and forth, he refused to stand still.
Karkenny had accomplished getting out the entire opposing lineup by the end of the third inning. He was so determined to have a consistent routine that when the fourth inning started, so did his need to use the restroom; but because he was doing so well, he refused to make any adjustment.
“At this point I was just happy that I was doing this well for my team. I was not even thinking towards throwing a perfect game,” Karkenny said.
If someone is throwing a no-hitter or a perfect game, most teammates do not talk to the pitcher. During the game, teammate Justin Tilton quietly questioned Pearson Good if he had seen anything interesting about the scoreboard. When Good looked over, the scoreboard for the San Diego Hawks read nothing but zeros.
“When we reached the sixth inning and no one had given up a hit I thought to myself: I might as well throw a perfect game. I was never really nervous. The best I could describe it to myself was like when you’re a basketball player and you are just making all your shots. You don’t feel like you could miss…” Karkenny said.
By the seventh inning all Karkenny wanted to do was throw strikes and make pitches.
“The only time I got nervous was in the seventh inning when there was a 3-1 count … so I needed two fast balls,” Karkenny said. “I sent the ball perfectly down the middle and the guy swung at both, missing.”
The last inning was the climax as San Diego had three guys who weren’t seen all game step up to the plate. The first opponent struck out, the second grounded out and the last hitter of the game went swinging twice.
Karkenny just had one more pitch but threw two balls instead. The San Diego hitter battled the next three pitches, launching three foul balls.
“All I could think was just get out already! The anticipation got to me. So the last pitch I threw a cutter, the guy swung and missed! In that moment all I could think was ‘Wow, that actually just happened,” Karkenny said.
The fans went crazy. First to embrace Karkenny was sophomore catcher, David Sheaffer. Sheaffer later informed Karkenny, “You were squeezing me so tight!”
TMC Mustang’s swarmed the history-making star jumping up and down with shouts.
“One of the coolest things about the team coming onto the field to celebrate was how I saw my brother Steven running from the outfield,” Karkenny said (who was finally able to use the restroom).
The biggest praise for Karkenny was hearing his father, Dave Karkenny. “That was the most magnificent thing I have ever seen,” he said.
The post-game talk in the dugout began with head coach Monte Brooks humorously saying, “As of right now, I know two people who are perfect, Jason, and Jesus Christ!”
From there the team packed up and went to a teammate’s house close by. When they arrived, Karkenny was eager to recharge his phone and see all the commotion to the news about the perfect game. For the next couple of days many texts and social media notifications were buzzing his pocket.
“I still cannot believe throwing a perfect game actually happened. There has been only two times where it has felt so real. The first was when I watched the video my dad was able to get. The second happened while I researched statistics on who had thrown a perfect game,” Karkenny said.
The following Monday, Karkenny’s statistics professor challenged the class to figure out the probability of someone throwing a perfect game.
“The answer came to be something like .00009 percent,” Karkenny said, “Now at that moment, what I had done became so real to me because of how rare it really was. It’s insane!”
By Kinley Kane