With battery mate and close friend Tom Mullin striking out five of the first six batters he faced, Tim Rafter had a sense that something good was in the making.
"He's been solid all season," Rafter said. "But today, from the get-go, he had all three of his pitches working for him. The hitters were having a hard time keeping up with him."
Mullin pitched a no-hitter Tuesday, registering 12 strikeouts, and St. Joseph's Prep muffled host Father Judge, 7-0, in a Catholic League Red Division baseball matchup at Ramp Playground in Mayfair.
"I had good control the whole game, and my curveball was working well," said Mullin, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior righthander.
It marked the first seven-inning no-hitter of Mullin's career. Early this season, in a 10-0 shutout of Roman Catholic, the Penn State recruit yielded no hits in five innings and fanned seven.
Against Judge, Mullin issued a sixth-inning walk. The chance at perfection had been erased when he plunked Crusaders shortstop Jeff Seigafuse with no outs in the third.
"It was an inside fastball," Mullin said. "It kind of got away from me."
Mullin, who improved to 7-1, mixed a fastball that has been clocked at 87 m.p.h., curveball, and change-up. He threw 88 pitches, 61 for strikes.
"He was throwing all his pitches for strikes, and his fastball seemed to have life on it," Hawks first-year coach Joe Falcone said.
Mullin, of Springfield, Delaware County, struck out the side in the first and sixth innings. A side-armer, he said he adopted that motion while playing third base for the Philly Bandits, a local showcase squad.
"We were going through infield practice, and I was side-arming the ball to first base," the 18-year-old said. "One of the coaches said, 'You should give that a try when you're pitching.' It's given my fastball more speed."
Did Mullin avoid talk of a no-hitter as the game went along?
"Not really," he said. "I did my usual thing. I'm not the superstitious type."
The Prep (11-8 overall, 10-4 division) posted eight of its 13 hits in the first three innings. Rafter (2 for 4, RBI), Chase Standen (2 for 3, 2 runs), Pat O'Dell (2 for 4, run), and Chris Martin (2 for 4, run) sparked the offense.
Judge (8-11, 4-10) was hurt by four errors.
Mullin's goal in his first season at Penn State? "I would like to be a starter," he said. "But, realistically, I'll probably be a reliever."
St. Joseph's Prep 102 001 3 - 7 13 0
Father Judge 000 000 0 - 0 0 4
WP: Tom Mullin. LP: Chris Thompson. 3B: SJP-Pat O'Dell.