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04/29/09 12:05 AM ET
High school hurler's no-hit streak ends
Florida senior gives up double in district semifinal
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
For the first time in more than a month, Patrick Schuster finally gave up a hit. The left-handed senior at Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla., brought four consecutive no-hitters into his playoff start Tuesday against Gaither High School. But a double by Drew Doty, the second batter in the third inning, ended the amazing streak. Schuster's reaction? Relief, and not the baseball kind. "I turned around and said, 'Thank you. It's done now and I don't have to worry about it anymore,'" Schuster told reporters afterward. Still, Schuster set a Florida state record last week with his fourth consecutive no-hitter. The national record is six. Doty's double snapped a streak of 28 1/3 innings without allowing a hit for Schuster. The last hit he had allowed before that was on March 24. Gaither defeated Mitchell, 9-4, ending Schuster and his team's season. He finishes 8-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 25 total pitching appearances this season. "It's been great, but this is a way to put [the no-hit streak] to a stopping halt," said Schuster, who threw 101 pitches in five innings of work, according to the St. Petersburg Times' citing of the official scorekeeper. "After warming up, my arm didn't feel like it did the last three games or any time I threw well. I wasn't hitting my spots well and my offspeeds weren't moving as much as they should have. I knew I was going to have to fight to stay in the game today." The streak-snapping hit came during the Class 6A-District 7 baseball semifinal at Countryside High. In the third inning, Schuster struck leadoff batter Mike Danner in the face with a pitch, bloodying his lip. Then Doty delivered the double on a 1-and-0 count to end the streak before a standing-room-only crowd of 1,000. In his next at-bat, Schuster hit an RBI single to give his team a 3-2 lead. Schuster was taken out after five innings with his team trailing, 5-4. Schuster allowed four earned runs and three hits, walking five and striking out five. Mitchell coach Scot Wilcox indicated the intense media scrutiny -- Tuesday's game was covered by numerous media outlets and shown on regional television -- might have had an effect on his star pitcher. "It looked like he was just getting a little bit tired," Wilcox said. "But he's a competitor. You can't go out and have perfect stuff every single night." Clearly, Schuster did everyone proud with his performance, starting with his family. "I've been more appreciative of the man he is and the way he's handled it," Schuster's mom, Sharon, told the Times. "I don't know too many 18-year-olds that could stand up under the pressure and scrutiny that he's been under and act like an adult. ... We're extremely proud of him right now." At 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, the 18-year-old Schuster, who has signed with the University of Florida, is projected as anywhere from a second- to a fourth-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft in June. For the season, Schuster gave up just 12 hits in 60 innings this season, and was 8-1 with 115 strikeouts while helping his team to a 23-4 mark. He had 60 strikeouts during the string of four no-hitters, which began April 3. Schuster would have become the fourth high school pitcher to throw five consecutive no-hitters. Two players have thrown six in a row. Chris Taranto of Notre Dame High School in Biloxi, Miss., did it in 1961, while Tom Engle did it in 1989 in Lancaster, Ohio. Both were drafted by Major League teams. Taranto was taken by the Houston Colt .45s and Engle was drafted by the New York Mets. Arm problems ended both their careers before either could make it to the Majors. Engle attended Tuesday's game, working the game as a producer for ESPN. Schuster, who according to the Times is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the Rays-Red Sox game on Sunday at Tropicana Field, said he'll likely step back from baseball until the Draft. "I'm going to go hide in a hole for a little bit and stay out of the spotlight for a while and enjoy myself," Schuster said.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.