Giacalone delivers perfection, victory for SMNW
Even as he closed in on a history-making performance, Adam Giacalone never lost sight of the goal at hand.
The Shawnee Mission Northwest baseball team needed a victory against Olathe East, and it was the senior pitcher’s job to throw strikes and put his team in position to win.
Batter after batter struggled to touch Giacalone’s fastball and curveball, and those who did still failed to reach base. Twenty-one Hawks stepped to the plate, and all 21 promptly returned to the dugout as Giacalone tossed the first perfect game in Northwest history in a 5-0 victory Tuesday, April 20, at the College Boulevard Activity Center.
Giacalone struck out 14 batters in a 77-pitch masterpiece.
“During the game I wasn’t even thinking about the whole perfect game thing as it went along,” Giacalone said.
“Things felt like they were going really fast, but nobody really said anything. Nobody wanted to be the person who jinxed it. I wasn’t worried about it. I have great teammates, and we were all working for the win. Once it was over everybody went nuts, but before that it was quiet in the dugout and we were all just working to get the win.”
Giacalone did the bulk of the work early as the game was a scoreless pitcher’s duel until the fifth inning.
After struggling to string hits together, the Cougars caught fire at the plate and scored five runs in the fifth inning. Cody Ball started the inning with a short fly ball that clipped off a diving outfielder’s glove. Ball hustled to stretch a single into a double. Jake Thompson followed with a single that plated Ball, and the rest of the Cougars followed suit with a series of hits.
Afterward, the ball went back into Giacalone’s hand and he continued to work his magic.
“Just like every game I was locating my fastball pretty well,” he said. “What helped especially this game was I could get my curveball over for a first-pitch strike. Nobody really swings at a first-pitch curveball, so when I could get that over it just gave me that extra advantage.”
When the game ended, Giacalone was mobbed by his teammates who congratulated him on the accomplishment.
“It felt amazing,” he said. “It’s a good senior memory.”
Giacalone hopes more good memories will be in store this season as he and his teammates try to earn a berth in the Class 6A state tournament.
“We’re all looking to get to state and even win state,” he said. “We have a goal sheet, and that’s our number one goal.”
“With that win, it just shows us that we all know that we have really good pitching with me, Jake Thompson and Chris Mansker. If we can get a few runs, we fell like we can win any game we play in.”