CROWLEY — Behind a perfect game from senior pitcher Matt Haley, the Joshua Owls recorded a 3-0 win Wednesday over Mesquite Poteet for a 1-0 series lead in the Class 5A bi-district playoffs at Crowley High School.
The Owls scored one run in the bottom of the first inning, and that was all Haley needed as the University of New Mexico signee tossed a perfect game — no hits, no walks, and no hit batters, to go along with 13 strikeouts.
It was Haley's third no-hitter of the year but his first-ever perfect game.
“I had a lot of life on my fastball and my change-up was a great pitch to get them off balance,” Haley said. “My curve ball and slider were mediocre but both got a couple swings and misses.”
Haley said he realized he had a chance at accomplishing something special when he found out how low his pitch count was halfway through the game.
“I first realized it after the fourth inning when they told me I was at 39 pitches,” Haley said. “Going out for the seventh was the most nerve-racking inning because at that point it’s almost impossible not to think about. Also I can’t forget about the amazing catch at the warning track to end the game by Landon Gest [in right field].”
Haley was highly efficient as he finished his perfect game needing just 80 pitches to get through seven innings. And he only threw 20 balls all night.
The Owls plated one run in the bottom of the first on a Poteet error, which allowed Ethan Wood to score after leading off with a single.
Then Joshua scored two more runs in the second inning on a Toney Smith RBI double to score Blake Alexander and a Wood sacrifice ground-out to score Smith, which made it 3-0.
Poteet pitcher Gilbert De Los Santos was impressive in his own right as he held Joshua to just four base hits and one earned run with seven strikeouts in six innings, but the 3-0 lead was all Haley and the Owls' defense needed.
After Joshua reached the regional semifinals for the first time in program history last season, the Owls are hoping for another deep playoff run this season after finishing in third place in a deep District 14-5A. And a 1-0 series lead over the Pirates is a solid start.
“It means a lot getting our team to a 1-0 series lead because it takes all the pressure off for Friday so we can just go out and play our brand of baseball,” Haley said. “Tonight was one of the most quality team wins we’ve had all year; the offense got me an early lead, which takes all the pressure off and allows me to just go out there and pitch. And our defense was awesome making some great plays everywhere on the field.”
Game 2 between the Owls and Pirates is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Poteet High School. If the Pirates win game 2, a decisive game 3 is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Irving High School.