Florida Gators sophomore right-hander Jonathon Crawford threw the fourth solo no-hitter in school history and seventh in the history of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night at McKethan Stadium as part of the 2012 Gainesville Regional. Following the wrap-up video are some notes and quotes about Crawford’s gem and how it unfolded.
» As you already know, Crawford’s no-hitter was the first solo one for Florida – and also the first to occur in the NCAA Tournament – since May 23, 1991, when then-sophomore John Burke threw one against Furman for a 2-0 victory. However, ESPN’s Stats & Info Twitter account also pointed out Friday night that May 23, 1991 is also the last day there was a postseason NCAA no-hitter as well as one in the MLB. Just like Crawford’s was overshadowed by the no-no thrown by the New York Mets’ Johan Santana, Burke’s was secondary to a no-hitter tossed by Tommy Greene of the Philadelphia Phillies.
» Speaking of Burke, he was out for dinner with his family in Colorado when he caught a glimpse of a television and saw what Crawford did 21 years after he threw his no-no. “Great stuff,” Burke told Florida’s GatorZone.com. “I’m always pulling for Florida. I knew it was eventually going to happen, that somebody was going to throw one.”
» Though Crawford’s gem was the Gators’ first solo no-hitter since 1991, Florida actually saw two pitchers combine for one in 1993 when Doug Brennan (7.0 IP) and Chris Nelson (2.0 IP) took down Pace on March 19 of that year.
» Considering there have only been seven no-hitters thrown in the history of the NCAA Tournament, it should be no surprise that Florida is the only school to have two players accomplish the feat. Coincidentally, Crawford’s no-hitter was the first since Burke’s, meaning the Gators have the last two NCAA postseason no-nos on record.
» Crawford hit 98 mph on the pitching gun three times in the bottom of the ninth. He had not thrown the ball above 95 mph in any of the previous innings. “The last batter, I was throwing as hard as I could,” he said.
Read the rest of the notes and quotes on Crawford’s no-hitter…after the break!
» Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s opening statement on Crawford’s performance: “What a way to start regional play. [Crawford] had a special night. Great night by him. We needed a great start by our starting pitcher. [...] We needed a special outing by Jonathon. I am very proud of Jonathon but also very proud of our team.”
» Crawford on how the no-hitter played out: “I was just kind of scared for a second that he would get a hit but then Casey [Turgeon] jumped up and got it. I was really pumped up at the possibility that I could get a no-hitter; I was really jacked up.”
» Turgeon not only saved Crawford’s no-hitter when his fantastic grab in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, he also provided all of the runs in the game by hitting a career-high four RBIs in the contest with three of those coming from a blast in the fifth.
» Crawford on when he knew the no-hitter was a possibility: “When I came in after the eighth, it kind of hit me and I got really excited and nervous at the same time. That’s when it really hit me that I could possibly have a no-hitter.”
» O’Sullivan tried to put a bow on Crawford’s outing by explaining that the threw 19 first-pitch strikes out of 27 batters and tossed two of his first three pitches for strikes against 22 of the 27 batters he faced. Crawford also allowed only one base on balls during the game and used just 98 pitches to get the job done. “He pitched to contact and usually when you pitch to contact, balls find your defenders,” he said. “Usually when you throw strikes, they find your outfielders or your infielders. It’s when you work behind in a count, for some reason the ball finds holes. It was just one of those nights.”
» Turgeon gave the final game ball to O’Sullivan, who he said will ensure that something special is done with it. Florida noted late Friday night that the College Baseball Hall of Fame is interested in the hat Crawford wore during the no-hitter.
» O’Sullivan said he “probably called 10 pitches tonight” and gave the pitch-calling completely to junior catcher Mike Zunino over the final three innings. “Mike Zunino had a lot to do with [Crawford’s calmness during the game]. Him going out there for the last out to make sure that he stayed within himself was a veteran move,” he said. “Most guys wouldn’t want to do that because they don’t want to break-up the karma. It was a veteran move by Mike and, like I said, they worked outstanding together all night long. I think mike deserves a lot of that credit for keeping his nerves under control.”
» O’Sullivan said assistant coach Brad Weitzel, who watched Crawford throw in the bullpen before the game, claimed that a no-hitter was possible. “He said, ‘The pen was the best he’s thrown this year, and he might throw a no-hitter.’ I will confirm that he did say that,” O’Sullivan noted. He continued discussing Crawford’s gem: “You can tell when a guy’s in a groove. His fastball was crisp. It was at the knees. There was no misfires. you can usually tell when a guy is throwing his warm-up pitches how locked in he is.”