A. J. Paul threw a perfect game as the Sedalia Travelers swept the Windsor Titans in the senior Legion baseball doubleheader Tuesday night at Dey Field at Liberty Park, winning the first game 10-0 in five innings and the second 10-0 in six.
“All my defense was behind me the entire time,” Paul said. “I just kind of felt it. I didn’t think about it too much. I tried not to think about it.”
Paul struck out five in a row in the second and third innings, finishing the game with six strikeouts.
“I told him in the dugout, ‘stay hot, A.J. and just keep hitting your spots, and I’ll talk to you in between innings if you’re struggling,’” said catcher Spencer Ruckman. “Never once did he struggle.”
Paul last threw a perfect game in Little League.
“I don’t think that counts though,” he said.
This time around, he realized he hadn’t allowed a baserunner through five innings but didn’t want to say anything. The Travelers clinched it with a five-run fifth to invoke the 10-run rule.
“I’m really superstitious when it comes to baseball,” he said. “I tried not to say a word about it until we had a guy on third base with one out in that last inning for the run rule. That’s the only time I started mentioning it because I felt we had it in the bag.”
Paul had his defense behind him. Five of the outs came on ground balls, including the final one in the top of the fifth on a roller to third.
“It takes a team collectively for a perfect game,” said Travelers manager Mark Carey. “There were no errors involved. We made a couple good plays to keep that perfect game in tact. Henry (Tietz) makes that charge in at third base and side-arms a ball over to first to get a guy; there goes that perfect game potentially.”
Windsor starter Trevor Warlen pitched 4 1-3 innings, allowing five hits and walking three. After the Travelers pushed a run across in the first on a Zach Bishop single to score Caleb Tanguay, Warlen picked Bishop off at first. He then worked a one-two-three second before the Travelers got to him in the third.
“I thought Trevor pitched well, we just didn’t play behind him,” said Windsor manager Mike Daugherty. “I think we had five errors in the game. You can’t do that and win against a good team.”
Matt Miles reached on an error to lead off the third and scored on an error that put Luke Archibeque on second. He later stole third and came home when Tietz stole second and drew a throw. Tietz scored on a wild pitch.
An error brought home another Travelers run in the fourth. In the fifth, Tietz hit a lead-off double. Singles by Ian Dotson and Bishop followed to make it 7-0. After two more runs scored on errors, the Travelers got their final run when Tietz drew a bases-loaded walk.
In the second game, Taylor Schubert nearly matched Paul, taking a no-hit bid into the fourth inning before Warlen broke it up with a single to right. Schubert struck out five in six innings and allowed two hits and no walks.
“We only had one error, but we minimized our damage,” he said.
Windsor’s starter in the second game pitched well too. Ben Scotten struck out three and allowed two runs on three hits in five innings of work.
“He pitched a great game but I had to pull him because he had over 100 pitches,” Daugherty said. “He had a little trouble throwing strikes there, but he worked out of jams and kept us in the game, 2-0 through five innings. We just couldn’t come in and follow him up.”
The Travelers got one run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a second on a sacrifice bunt in the fifth before breaking through with eight runs in the sixth.
With no one out and the bases loaded, Bishop singled to drive home Tietz. After Darion Lawrence was hit by a pitch to force home Tanguay, Chance McMullin singled to score Dotson and Austin Bullerd. Wild pitches brought home two more runs, and Paul followed with a single to score Cole Simoncic. Paul scored the final run of the game on an error.
With the win the Travelers are above .500 for the first time this season, having won 16 of the last 24 games to improve to 18-16 on the year. They will host Boonville in a doubleheader at 6 p.m. today at Liberty Park.