May 14, 2014 - The perfect game.
Delta College baseball player Clayton Spiker, a 2011 OHS graduate, pitched a perfect game May 2 against St. Clair Community College. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
For a pitcher, it's the Holy Grail of baseball.
Clayton Spiker, a 2011 Oxford High School graduate, can now count himself among the few who have been fortunate enough to drink from it.
On Friday, May 2, Spiker, who plays for Delta College, pitched a perfect game against St. Clair Community College, which lost 6-0.
It was the first-ever perfect game for both Spiker and the Delta College Pioneers.
"It's been a dream of mine ever since I was little," said the sophomore hurler, who recalled playing in the backyard and pretending to pitch a perfect game in the World Series.
In seven innings, Spiker allowed no hits, no walks and no baserunners. Twenty-one batters stepped up to home plate and 21 batters returned to the dugout empty-handed.
Spiker struck out nine batters.
"The feeling was pretty unreal," he said. "It was a big accomplishment to me."
It was during either the fifth or sixth inning that Spiker realized he was pitching a perfect game. All of the sudden, no one on his team was talking to him or sitting near him on the bench.
Baseball tradition dictates you don't talk to or get near a pitcher who's on the brink of a no-hitter, especially a perfect game.
"I was getting a little nervous," Spiker said.
During the seventh inning, the crowd was cheering after every pitch.
"When I got the first two guys out, everyone was going crazy," Spiker said. "(When) the last batter (stepped up to the plate), I was shaking so bad that I had to step off the mound a couple times and take a couple breaths."
As if part of some movie script, the drama came to a head when the count was 3-2 on the last batter.
"That was probably the most nervous I've ever been in my entire life," Spiker said.
It all came down to the last pitch. With everything on the line, he hurled his "go-to pitch" Ė the slider.
The batter swung, missed and Spiker had his perfect game.
"Everything just worked out," he said.
Although Spiker was clearly the star of the game, he was quick to point out he didn't achieve this feat alone.
"My defense helped me tremendously," he explained. "My second baseman had a couple good plays. My center fielder caught a ball at the warning track. My shortstop got a couple good plays, too.
"Without their help, and my catcher's help, I don't think I would have been able to do it. It was more of a team effort, even though they like to say it was all me."
It should be noted that in the previous game against Lansing Community College, Spiker pitched a one-hitter.
The best advice Spiker can give young players from little league to high school is to "stay relaxed" and "be confident."
After college, Spiker would like to pursue a career in teaching. He'd like to teach secondary physical education and coach both baseball and football.
If the opportunity presented itself, he indicated his willingness to return to Wildcat country to educate students.
"I love Oxford," Spiker said.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.