Published April 6, 2006
It’s what every little league pitcher dreams about when playing in the neighborhood sandlot. And it’s what every coach hopes will happen one day but knows that only a dozen or so coaches have experienced it. The major league pitchers who have accomplished it include Cy Young, Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning and Sandy Koufax.
What is it? It’s a “perfect game”—and it happened on Saturday, March 18, as the Blessed Trinity High School’s Titans defeated the St. Pius X High School’s Golden Lions in a 10-0 victory. A perfect game occurs when a pitcher faces 27 batters and none of them gets on base. They all strike out, fly out or are tagged out while getting to first base.
A game like this is supposed to be the pinnacle of every baseball player’s career, but for BT pitcher Eric Maust it was not about him that day—it was about his teammates and a boy named Marc Fuentes, a young fan who attended the game as a member of the North Metro Miracle League (NMML).
“The important thing that I took from the day’s events was how at the end of the day, everything had been placed in perspective,” said Maust. “Indeed, throwing a perfect game has been a long-time goal of mine, but what is ultimately important is not how great the individual is, but rather how great the individual makes others.”
When the game ended Maust presented the game ball to Marc, who had been hanging out with the Titans in the dugout. “It gives me great satisfaction and overall joy to know that BT baseball and my performance and game ball mean a great deal to him,” said the talented pitcher.
According to Marc’s mother, Sheri Fuentes, of Cumming, Maust could not have given her son a better gift that day. “Marc is a sports nut. He went home that night and slept with the ball. The quality of that young man—he did not hesitate after the game had ended to just walk right over and give the ball to Marc.”
Marc, a 14-year-old who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, is a member of NMML, which had been invited to attend the Saturday evening game. The NMML team did not know that they would witness something special that evening. The BT team members had participated in a coaching clinic at the organization’s field earlier in the day. NMML is a charitable organization that provides inclusive adapted sports and social activities for children and adults, especially tailored to those with disabilities.
According to Blessed Trinity’s head baseball coach, Andy Harlin, the combination of the families from the Miracle League being there, Eric throwing a perfect game and then his unselfish giving of the game ball to Marc, is what this Titan baseball team is all about. “The fact that Eric threw a perfect game against St. Pius was just the icing on the cake. If you could have seen Marc’s face and the joy it brought to his parents—that was number one on that night. These are great kids on this team who happen to play baseball very well together. I love ‘em,” beamed Harlin. “Nobody asked Eric to give Marc the ball. They are just a great group of young men who represent the school so well in the community.”
While the actions of the pitcher after the game certainly were impressive, the action on the field that night was remarkable as well, and when it is St. Pius versus Blessed Trinity the friendly Catholic-school rivalry cannot be ignored. “It’s always exciting playing St. Pius, and even though they are in a different classification, there is a rivalry there, no matter what anybody says,” according to Harlin.
“Eric has just been very sharp, and he was certainly sharp that night. His job as a pitcher is to keep us in games and give our offense a chance, and that’s what he does. In the Pius game, Tim Bondell made a great defensive play in the first inning, and that was pretty much the only threat of a hit they had. Eric will be the first one to tell you it’s not only him but his defense as well to make something like that happen. That’s a very good team over there at Pius that is very well coached. So the fact that he did it against them is impressive. This team is good at doing things for each other. Eric pitches like that to give us a chance to win. The defense plays like that because they want to help out our pitcher. They are very unselfish. That’s certainly a big win, but we try to take things one day at a time,” said Harlin.
According to Maust, a senior who has committed to playing baseball for the University of Notre Dame next year, working with an organization such as NMML brings together the team’s love of baseball, love of community and love of their Catholic faith.
“I have always thought that the man who places others first is second to nobody. There is a lot of wisdom in that and after helping with the Miracle League, our team understands that.”
The Blessed Trinity baseball team includes Matt Batteh, Tim Bondell, Derek Chriscoe, Tim Cleary, Jimmy Coleman, Jameson Contratto, Shane Doyle, John Ethridge, Blake Jenkins, Ricky Kleban, Jonathan Kolowich, Matt Lobacz, Eric Maust, Matt Skole, Evan Tieles, Benton Yaun, Todd Reinkemeyer and Jenny Brandon.