Shell-shocker! Montville player tosses perfect game for agesShell records 18 outs, all via strikeout, as Waldo County postseason in final stages
Liberty — Eighteen batters faced, 18 strikeouts recorded. It is the type of jaw-dropping performance Little League pitchers across the country — make that the world — have dreamed of experiencing.
And for one Waldo County youngster, that dream became a reality Saturday, June 16.
Thirteen-year-old Emmett Shell tossed a perfect game that day in Liberty's 1-0 win over Morrill in the Waldo County Little League Western Division championship game, striking out every batter he faced, making it one of the most dominant performances in the 73-year history of Little League.
“We really can’t know how many perfect games have been pitched among the 300 million or so Little League games played in the past 73 years," said Lance Van Auken, vice president of communications for Little League International. "But we know they are rare, and you can’t get any more perfect than 18 strikeouts in a six-inning game.”
“It was amazing,” said Liberty coach Danny Fuller. “I’ve never seen a perfect game in all the years I’ve been involved in Little League. It came at a time when we really needed it.”
A perfect game is different than a no-hitter, with a perfect game coming when both no hits and no walks are yielded to the opposing team.
It is, indeed, rare to have every out of a baseball game, at any level, recorded via strikeouts. Shell was, well, in cruise control, rocking and firing strike after strike.
Liberty's win thrusts it into the Waldo County Little League championship series, which begins Tuesday, June 19 at 5:30 p.m., against Frankfort in Liberty. Game two will be in Frankfort on Thursday, June 21, also at 5:30 p.m., while the possible third and deciding game would be played in Liberty on Saturday, June 23, at 10 a.m.
In his memorable effort on the hill, Shell threw 71 pitches, 56 for strikes. Little Leaguers are limited to 85 pitches per outing. Shell cannot pitch Tuesday, but will pitch Thursday in what could be the league championship clincher. Nearly as impressive was the fact Morrill's pitcher, Grey Dinsmore, allowed only two hits and one earned run on 57 pitches.
Saturday's game only had two hits and three base runners, with Riley Boulay and Garrett Butler each earning hits in the victory for Liberty.
Top-seeded Liberty (16-3) defeated No. 4 Brooks 7-5 in the semifinals and beat No. 3 Morrill 1-0 to advance to the finals. In the semifinal game against Brooks, Shell struck out seven batters in 35 pitches and struck out three batters in nine pitches in a regular-season game against Unity.
"It's pretty amazing," said Shell of his perfect performance June 16 against Morrill. "I'd just found out about the perfect game thrown in the Major [Leagues] a couple days ago [Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants on June 13] and I saw that it tied the record for most strikeouts in a perfect game with 14, which is just over half [the batters you can face], so then to go out and just strike out everyone, was just amazing."
Typically when pitchers have not surrendered a hit several innings into a game, teammates will not talk to the hurler for fear of jinxing him. Not Liberty players.
"I don't know if everyone on my team quite realized what was happening," said Shell. "But I did."
Shell felt like he had a relative chance at the monumental accomplishment once he retired the side in the fourth inning.
"The top of the [Morrill] order was coming up again [in the fourth inning] and they have three really strong batters at the top. So I knew if I could get past them I'd have a pretty good shot," he said.
Shell has a fastball that tops out at 61 miles per hour and also has a curveball, which he only threw once in Saturday's game.
"It was a ball," said Shell of the one curve he threw. "So it was all fastballs in that game."
The game lasted only 55 minutes.
Shell has an 8-0 record on the mound this season and leads his team in earned run average (1.08), strikeouts (100) and strikeouts per game (13.5).
Shell also plays on the Waldo County all-star team and Black Bear North, a travel team composed of players from throughout Eastern Maine that will compete in a week-long tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y. in August.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.