Around the third inning, Eric Wescott realized what was happening.

“I realized I was perfect after the third inning and I felt like I had a chance to do something that is very rare,” Wescott said. “I didn’t get nervous until the bottom of the fifth  and that was their last ups.”

On Friday at Boothbay, Wescott, a Madison Area Memorial High School senior, pulled off the rare perfect game pitching for Bridgeway, the co-op Madison and Carrabec team. Wescott struck out 10 of the 15 hitters he faced in the 15-0 win.

Richmond’s Zach Small throws during a game against Buckfield last season in Richmond. Kennebec Journal file photo by Joe Phelan

Wescott’s feat was rare, and under current rules, no-hitters could become even rarer in Maine high school baseball. Pitchers are now allowed a maximum of 110 pitches in a game. In a mercy-rule shortened game such as Wescott’s, 110 pitches is plenty. If the game goes a full seven, 110 may not be enough to complete the no-hitter. For example, last season Skowhegan pitcher Ryan Savage took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Mt. Blue, and coach Mike LeBlanc was worried that the rule would force him to do what a few seasons earlier would be unthinkable.

“He gave up a hit, thank God, because he was at the 110 pitch count and I had to take him out. I said that’d be the first time ever I had to take a kid going for a no-hitter out because he was at the pitch count,” LeBlanc said.

Often, without the buzz of a big crowd or an impartial official scorekeeper, high school no-hitters unfurl with no fanfare. In 2014, Monmouth Academy’s Nate Gagne came within one strike of a perfect game against Hall-Dale, before Ryan Sinclair singled up the middle. At the time, Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi turned to his scorekeeper and asked, was that the first hit Nate has allowed?

Palleschi was surprised at the answer. That was the first base runner.

“To be 100 percent honest, nobody knew. Only the scorekeeper,” Palleschi said.

Palleschi said the Mustangs have thrown one no-hitter in his 15 seasons as head coach, a five-pitcher combined effort in a lopsided win over Wiscasset. With coaches working to keep pitch counts down and pitchers eligible to throw in as many games as possible, tag team no-hitters may become more common than a single pitcher’s effort.

“High school kids tend to focus on the game’s bigger picture. They’re more apt to recognize it might be a shutout,” Palleschi said.

Last season, Richmond senior Zach Small threw a no-hitter on the biggest stage possible, the Class D state championship game. With Small walking one, hitting a batter, and striking out seven, Richmond won the state crown with an 11-0 win over Fort Fairfield. Richmond coach Ryan Gardner said he knew throughout the game Small was throwing a no-hitter, thanks to the Mansfield Stadium scoreboard above the right field wall. Small’s ability to keep Fort Fairfield hitters guessing with his hard fastball and sharp curve was apparent from the first inning.

“That was one of those incredible moments. (Small) just overpowered them. You can sense when a guy is in a groove like that,” Gardner said. “They (Fort Fairfield hitters) had never really seen a curveball, and he’s smart enough to know if they can’t hit it, throw it.”

Gardner said he’s had a few pitchers throw regular season no-hitters in his 22 seasons, but quickly pointed out the East/West Conference features some of the smallest schools in the state. Richmond’s opponents often have to use eighth graders or freshmen to complete a varsity lineup. That made Small’s effort in a state game the most dominant pitching performance Gardner could recall.

It also wouldn’t have mattered if Small gave up 10 hits if the end result of the game was the same, Gardner added. The trophy sitting in the Bobcats’ trophy case would look just as nice no matter the circumstances behind the victory.

“We tell the kids, it’s about winning the game,” Gardiner said. “These individual things are nice, but you have to take care of your arm and you have to try to win the game.”

Like Small, Wescott felt in command and confident Boothbay hitters would be unable to hit him. Only five hitters put the ball in play, and Wescott had faith in his teammates to make the plays.

“I felt in control all game, but my fastball was definitely my best pitch. I felt like I couldn’t miss with it,” Wescott said. “A perfect game is a whole team effort. My guys had a nice clean game and made the plays when it came to them.”


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