Jason Karkenny’s transition to the starting rotation took a quantum leap forward Friday evening.
The sophomore righthander made history against San Diego Christian, retiring all 27 Hawks he faced while hurling the program’s first-ever perfect game in a 6-0 TMC win.
The masterpiece was the Mustangs’ sixth victory (7-2) in a row (fifth straight in conference play) and vaulted the club into a three-way tie for first place in the GSAC (5-2).
Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA) got all the run support he needed in the first inning when his brother, Steve, after being hit by a pitch, eventually scored on Nick Covello’s (Skillman, NJ) groundout.
Then Karkenny (2-1) went to work in the last half of the first. He struck out the first batter he faced and an inning later, he sandwiched a pair of groundouts around another punchout.
He got another run to work with in the third when Collin Nyenhuis (Vista, CA) slammed a two-out, solo home run over the left field fence, doubling the Mustang advantage to 2-0. It was the junior first baseman’s second roundtripper of the year.
Karkenny struck out another Hawk in the third inning and rolled through the middle frames, whiffing two more batters in the fifth and inducing two flyouts and a groundout in the sixth.
Meanwhile, his teammates continued to pad the lead, doubling the advantage once again in the sixth with two more runs. Tyler Krahn (Abbotsford, BC, Canada) and Sam Robison (San Juan Capistrano, CA) led off the frame with back-to-back singles and moved up 90 feet on an error by the Hawk pitcher.
Moments later, Krahn scored on a David Sheaffer (Mt. Airy, NC) groundout and Robison raced home on a wild pitch to make it a 4-0 game.
Karkenny responded with, what else, another perfect inning in the sixth, retiring the Hawks on a lineout, a flyout, and a groundout.
It was now obvious that something special was in the works. It didn’t faze Karkenny at all as he mowed down the Hawks in the seventh and eight innings, retiring six batters on equal parts flyouts and groundouts.
For good measure, his teammates added two more runs in the top of the ninth on another Nyenhuis homer, this one a two-run wallop over the left-center field fence.
That set up a nerve-racking ninth for some. But, not for Karkenny who finished the job in workman-like fashion even after the Hawks tried to rattle him by sending three straight pinch-hitters to the plate. It didn’t work as the righthander struck out the first batter, got the next one on a groundout, and, fittingly, struck out the final Hawk to set off a jubilant celebration on the mound.
Karkenny’s gem featured 97 pitches and eight strikeouts. Nyenhuis paced the club’s eight-hit attack with three hits.