Cunningham-Rhoads’ Perfect Game Headlines Sweep Over Hiram
Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads tossed the second perfect game in College of Wooster baseball history on Sunday afternoon, setting down all 21 Hiram College batters he faced in the squads' second game of a North Coast Athletic Conference East Division doubleheader, which the Fighting Scots swept 7-2 and 16-0.
Wooster's only previous perfect game was thrown by Mark Bricker, brother of current assistant coach Jeff Bricker, back on May 7, 1989. It also marked the 12th no-hitter in team history, with the last coming by Mark Miller against Oberlin College March 29, 2009.
For Cunningham-Rhoads, a senior who has endured arm trouble at times during his collegiate career and is just seeing significant action this spring, it marked his first complete game.
"We talked about it to the team afterward," said Tim Pettorini, who also was the Fighting Scots' bench boss for Bricker's perfect game 23 years ago. "(Kyle) pitched (4.0) innings freshman year, two-thirds of an inning as a sophomore, and (20.1) as a junior. He's really paid his dues and done everything we've asked of him, and the reward was today."
The right-hander cruised through the Hiram lineup, as a ball didn't reach the outfield until the fourth inning and he struck out four, the third-highest total of his career. The game was originally slated for nine innings, however, for the second of an NCAC divisional twinbill, a 10-run mercy rule goes into effect after seven.
"(Kyle) was pretty much in control," Pettorini added. "Basically, he was throwing strikes. They were being very aggressive and our guys were making plays. (Jake) Zeek had a pretty good running catch on a bloop to right field (in the seventh)."
Another interesting side note, Cunningham-Rhoads, who improved to 4-2, threw to three different catchers – Michael DeBord, Bryan Miller, and Jon Rothman – as Wooster (14-11, 3-3 NCAC East) provided him plenty of offensive support and then substituted liberally.
The Scots scored twice in the first inning, keyed by Zac Mathie's 10th double of the season, once in the third, and then broke the game open with a five-run fourth. The latter inning began with a Zack Vesco home run and also included a two-bagger from Craig Day.
While the focus shifted to Cunningham-Rhoads' perfect game bid, the Scots did pile on eight more runs, highlighted by homers from DeBord and Cal Thomay.
In Sunday's opener, it was 3-2 entering the final inning before Wooster scored four runs in the top of the seventh to pull away from Hiram (8-18, 0-12 NCAC East). That frame was keyed by back-to-back one-out doubles from Miller and Mathie.
Then, Josh Stidham put the finishing touches on a complete game. Just one of the two runs he allowed was earned on five hits, and he registered six strikeouts while upping his record to 3-2.
Offensively on the day, Mathie, Johnathan Ray, and Ryan Miner led the way. Mathie was 5-for-7 with the two doubles and four RBI, while Ray also reached five times in seven plate appearances with four hits, highlighted by a first-inning home run in the first game, and one walk. Miner doubled three times as part of his 4-for-7 performance at the plate.
The Scots will be right back in action Monday with a home game against Capital University (12-15), starting at 4 p.m.