Prep baseball

Hebron's Patrick throws perfect game, no-hitter, in succession

2014-05-01T17:30:00Z 2014-05-02T13:54:11Z Hebron's Patrick throws perfect game, no-hitter, in successionJim Peters james.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com

No-hitters are rare, perfect games, even more so.

Doing both, back-to-back? Now that's just silly.

Welcome to the club, Tyler Patrick, membership unknown.

"I'll remember it my whole life," the Hebron freshman said. "It's awesome. I've always wanted to do it. I've seen major leaguers do it. The closest I've ever come was maybe a two-hitter. I didn't think it would happen my first couple starts."

Big stuff for a 15-year old simply hoping to stick on varsity. After winning his debut, allowing one run (unearned) to North Judson, Patrick tossed five perfect innings against Marquette Catholic. His next time on the mound, he wasn't quite as good, but pretty close, walking three while no-hitting LaCrosse over five frames.

"It's something you don't think is ever going to happen; it's so hard to do, then all of a sudden, you're in the situation," Hebron coach John Steinhilber said. "LaCrosse hits a ground ball to second and I thought, 'Man, that's like the first ball that's been hit today,' and it was. He'd be the first to tell you he's in a zone right now."

In the perfect game, Patrick was the beneficiary of two great plays by shortstop Mike Mikulich, including the game-ender on a ball up the middle. The prior batter, Patrick went to a 3-0 count before rallying with three strikes.

"I was getting a little nervous," he said. "During the fourth inning, I started to realize it. I was just trying to focus on the strike zone."

Patrick walked two in the second inning versus LaCrosse, ending the thought of a repeat. As the innings progressed and a zero remained in the hit column, everybody in the Hebron dugout knew what was happening.

"Everybody was talking about it all game," Patrick said. "I had to try to block it out."

Steinhilber takes little credit, other than lending Patrick some words of encouragement.

"Just have fun with it," he said. "I said to his cousin (Chad, a freshman) when he pitched the first game, it isn't any different, just him and the catcher. He's got Shawn (Ryan), one of the best pitchers ever at Hebron, calling pitches. They're in a symmetry."

At 6-foot-1, Patrick is big for his age and likely to grow, given the size of his dad Mark, who caught for Hebron in the late 80s. He describes his fastball as decent, a curve ball his out pitch, with a change-up mixed in.

"Coach (Ryan) tells me what to throw and I usually hit my spots," Patrick said. "(Catcher) Drew (Wheeler) does a great job blocking balls. I know my defense is behind me to back me up the whole game. My confidence is really high."

Patrick played three summers with the Northwest Indiana Shockers travel team to face better competition. For the last two years, he has taken pitching lessons from Andrean's Joe Plesac, crediting him for the development of his curve ball and overall mechanics.

"You can tell he's been taught properly," Steinhilber said. "He's not (Hobart's Brandon) Murray. He's a pitcher. He changes speeds well. He has good placement. He changes eye levels. Every pitch he throws is in a different spot, at a different angle. ... He pounds the zone and lets his defense work."

On Wednesday, Patrick, who also catches, played in a junior varsity game to get some at-bats. Given what he's done on the mound, he could've taken it as an insult. He didn't.

"I don't care what the game is," he said. "I just want to play."

As for that moment when Patrick yields his next hit, he's ready for it.

"I'll shrug it off and move on, just try to pitch my best," he said. "It's going to happen sometime."

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