He fell one pitch short of baseball perfection.
But to Eric Glaser, it was still a perfect game. A perfect night.
The 22-year-old right-hander pitched the third no-hitter in the 12-year history of the Augusta GreenJackets franchise, a 3-0 victory over the Hagerstown Suns Friday night at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Before a local TV audience and a near sellout crowd of 4,049 fans -- most of whom came for the post-game Christian music concert -- it was Glaser who stole the show.
The native of Fort Thomas, Ky., baffled the Suns with an unforgettable 113-pitch performance.
Glaser mixed a live fastball and an effective curveball and change-up to strike out a season-high 11 batters. He retired seven batters on ground outs and four on fly balls, facing just one batter over the minimum 27.
"I can't describe it," said Glaser, a second-round pick by the Boston Red Sox in the 1997 draft, whose previous longest outing this season was 5 2/3 innings. "It's just one of those things where things went my way tonight."
The lone blemish on an otherwise perfect night came in the seventh inning, when Glaser walked Suns leadoff man Jimmy Alvarez on a 3-and-2 pitch.
His teammates believed the pitch was close enough for home plate umpire Tom Lewis to call a strike. Glaser also threw a borderline pitch on 2-2.
At the time, Glaser was visibly shaken as Alvarez trotted to first base, thwarting his bid for perfection.
Afterward, though, the walk was an afterthought.
"I'll take a no-hitter any day," said Glaser, wearing a sheepish grin.
That day arrived Friday, a night Glaser called one of the two biggest nights of his life.
"The other was the state quarterfinal basketball game my senior year," said Glaser, who hails from hoops-crazed Kentucky. "We came back and won in overtime."
Fittingly, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound right-hander recorded the final out himself, as he raced toward first base on a grounder to the right side by pinch hitter Kurt Keene, took the flip from first baseman Luis Garcia and stepped on the bag to cement his place in history.
Upon recording the final out, Glaser pumped both arms in the air and was immediately mobbed by his teammates. He then headed up to the press box to be interviewed on the TV broadcast, which made for a somewhat surreal scene in the Jackets clubhouse.
Before the pumped-up players had a chance to celebrate with him, they watched Glaser on the clubhouse TV describing his performance.
The night was even more special for Glaser, whose mother, Reggie, flew in from Kentucky to attend the game along with his girlfriend and brother-in-law.
Boston Red Sox minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel, SAL president John H. Moss and GreenJackets owner Mike Savit, who flew in from Boston on Friday, also witnessed Glaser's special evening.
"It was awesome," said Jackets catcher Kregg Jarvais after handling the first no-hitter of his career. "It's a tribute to Glaze. He battled, throwing nine innings the way he did, with the way he put together pitches. He made all the pitches he needed to when he needed to. I'm so happy for him."
With the victory, Glaser improved his record to 8-6 and lowered his ERA to 3.81. It also gave the Jackets the four-game sweep of Hagerstown in the series. Augusta outscored the Suns 24-1 and held them to 13 hits in the four games.
And combined with Savannah's 5-4 loss at Greensboro on Friday, the Jackets are now one-half game behind the Sand Gnats in the race for the Southern Division second-half title. Augusta has won 11 straight at home and nine of their past 10 overall.
"It was just a magic night," Jackets manager Mike Boulanger said. "You don't see no-hitters very often, and for Glaze to do it in front of a full house and on TV and everything else, that was real nice for him."
Nice, especially for a guy who began the eason in the Jackets' bullpen.
Glaser had been used mostly as a middle reliever and spot starter. He moved into the starting rotation for good in late July after starter Wil Ledezma was placed on the disabled list.
"He's done everything we've asked of him this year, so I'm real happy for Glaze," Jackets pitching coach Bob Kipper said. "It couldn't have happened to a better guy."
The no-hitter was the second in the South Atlantic League this season. Ironically, the other was by Asheville Tourists right-hander Julio De Paula, who faces the Jackets tonight in the opener of a four-game series at The Lake.
Along with becoming the third pitcher in Augusta franchise history to accomplish the feat, Glaser is the 88th in the history of the modern SAL, which dates to 1960, to pitch a no-hitter.
Tony Bacci was the last Jackets pitcher to throw a no-hitter -- a seven-inning gem against the Savannah Sand Gnats in Savannah on May 26, 1997. Troy Mooney threw the other no-hitter for Augusta on May 31, 1991, also against Savannah.
It also is the third no-hitter by a Red Sox farmhand this season.
Class A Sarasota pitcher Casey Fossum no-hit the Clearwater Phillies on August 7, and Triple-A Pawtucket starter Tomo Ohka, a native of Japan, threw a perfect game against the Charlotte Knights on June 1.
"Whatever pitch he threw, he threw it where he wanted to," Boulanger said. "You think about a no-hitter by a guy like Randy Johnson, and he's a guy who can do that because he can throw it by you. With Glaze, that's not the case. This was more like a Greg Maddux performance. He pitched tonight."
vs. Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies)
Where: Lake Olmstead Stadium
When: 7:05 p.m.
Probable starters: Asheville -- RHP Julio De Paula (6-12, 4.82 ERA); Augusta -- RHP Brad Baker (11-5, 3.17 ERA).
Tickets: $7, $6, $5, Seniors/kids 4-12, Military $4.
Promotion: Rugrats appearance.
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