Superstition isn’t something Gig Harbor High junior pitcher Alex Harrison ascribes to.
Sitting in the dugout with one inning to go to wrap up a combined no-hitter against Bellarmine Prep at home on Monday, Harrison turned to his catcher, senior Jon Burghardt.
Usually after the final out, Harrison and Burghardt stick with a simple handshake. But if Harrison could wrap up the no-no, he wanted to do something different.
“I was like, ‘We gotta do something cool,’” Harrison said. “We came up with a little shimmy dance.”
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Harrison did indeed wrap up the no-hitter, which UCLA commit Mike Toglia started with five innings of no-hit baseball. Whether the fans and parents in attendance wanted to see it or not, the crowd got a taste of Harrison and Burghardt’s dance moves.
Talking about a no-hitter before the game is over? That’s a good way to infuriate old-school teammates. But maybe this generation of bat-flipping millennials is a little different.
“We knew we had it,” Harrison said, dripping with confidence.
That confidence allowed him to pitch freely and thrive under the pressure of not letting Toglia, himself and his teammates down.
I wasn’t too nervous. I just knew I had to come in and close the door.
Alex Harrison, Gig Harbor pitcher
“To be honest, I wasn’t feeling too much (pressure),” Harrison said. “I knew I had a solid defense behind me. Mike did a good job making them uncomfortable. I wasn’t too nervous. I just knew I had to come in and close the door.”
Harrison was taking notes — at least figuratively — while Toglia plowed through Bellarmine’s lineup during the first five innings.
“I noticed Mike was having a lot of success with early count, off-speed breaking pitches,” Harrison said. “I didn’t think they felt comfortable. I knew I could get them to guess with a high fastball.”
There weren’t any spectacular defensive plays to keep the no-hitter intact — just solid, routine defense.
“It was pretty routine, fundamental,” Harrison said. “We took care of everything, took care of the little things. During the preseason games, we had trouble playing smooth. It felt good. It felt good to walk off with the win against a rival team.”
As far as where this moment ranks in his high school career, Harrison said it’s near the top, perhaps just below taking third in the Class 4A state tournament in 2015.
“It feels good to perform well,” Harrison said. “To perform well behind someone else feels really good. It’s an honor to pitch with Mike.”
Gig Harbor won the game, 5-0. Toglia, batting leadoff instead of his usual spot in the three-hole, opened the game with a home run.