Stephen Strasburg Strikes Out 17 In A No-Hitter
(With the end of the year fast approaching, we’re counting down some of the top moments from the 2009 college baseball season. We’ll have one a day through New Year’s Eve.)
Stephen Strasburg didn’t catch anybody by surprise coming into 2009. The 6’4 righthander may have been off most people’s radar coming out of West Hills High School, but he was front and center on the college baseball landscape as he
prepared for his junior season at San Diego State.
Strasburg became a consensus All-American in 2008 after finishing his sophomore campaign with a 10-3 record and 133 strikeouts in 97 1/3 innings pitched. 2009 was just a formality, and the path for Strasburg was simple: Mow down batters and clear a path to being the top pick in the June MLB draft.
That’s why Strasburg’s no-hitter vs. Air Force on May 8 was less a surprise and more a reaffirmation of just how good the fireballer is. A record crowd of 3,337 packed Tony Gwynn Stadium to see the exclamation point on what turned out to be the last home appearance of Strasburg’s stellar three-year collegiate career.
The big man was on from the onset. Strasburg struckout seven of the first nine Falcon batters he faced before walking Nathan Carter to open the fourth inning. Strasburg then got Addison Gentry to fly out, followed by Carter being thrown out trying to steal by Aztec catcher Erik Castro, followed by another strikeout to end the inning.
The only other base runner of the night came when K.J. Randhawa walked to start the sixth inning. SDSU was leading just 1-0 at the time. The Air Force shortstop stole second base, but Strasburg struckout the next three batters to end any hopes of a Falcon rally.
The Aztecs scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, and added two more for insurance in the eighth, but one runs was all Strasburg would need. He retired the last 12 batters he faced, putting the finishing touches on his masterpiece by striking out the side to end the game.
Strasburg’s line for the game : 9 IP – 0 Hits – 0 Runs – 2 BB – 17 K
The 17 strikeouts weren’t even a season-high, let alone a career-best mark. Strasburg had struckout 18 San Diego Torrero batters in March earlier in the season, and his career best was a 23 K effort in a one-hit win over Utah in 2008.
Strasburg’s gem was the seventh no-hitter in SDSU history, but the first by an individual Aztec since 1986. It was just the third individual no-hitter in Mountain West Conference baseball history.
Not surprisingly, each of the nine Air Force batters struckout at least one during Strasburg’s two hour and eight minute no-no. Leadoff man Nathan Carter (one of the only two base runners that night), clean-up batter Ben Ausbun and Blair Roberts each fanned three times.
Strasburg’s record stood at 11-0 after the game. He led the nation with his 1.24 ERA and 164 strikeouts. He was the eventual #1 pick in the June MLB draft after taking virtually every award possible. Strasburg won both the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes award and was again a consensus All-American.
He was the spearhead of San Diego State’s first NCAA Regional berth since 1991, but his only loss of the season was a 5-1 setback to Virginia in the Aztec’s opener at the Irvine Regional. With Virginia swinging early in its at-bats, Strasburg gave-up a season-high 8 hits. He surrendered two runs and struckout 15 in seven innings.
Strasburg ended the season with a 13-1 record, and he topped the NCAA with a 1.32 ERA and 195 strikeouts. He allowed zero earned runs in 50 of his last 52 innings pitched prior to the Virginia game, while striking out at least 10 batters in 13 of his final 15 college starts.
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