LIBERTY, Maine — The Liberty Little League baseball team was hoping to be kept a little busier in its playoff game against Morrill last Saturday.
Liberty’s players were looking for some action and excitement in such a high-stakes game, but were left to simply cheer and watch as right-handed starter Emmett Shell set down all 18 batters he faced in the Waldo County Little League contest en route to a perfect game and 1-0 victory.
“I knew I was pitching well, but I had no idea I could do something like that,” said Shell, who struck out all 18 hitters in the six-inning outing.
The game itself took 54 minutes to play, as Shell retired batters in order every time.
He hit a snag when he was one pitch away from reaching perfection, but was given a little help to escape.
“I had one full count and I thought the last pitch I threw was outside,” he said. “But I got a lucky strike three call instead.”
Besides that, Shell was able to cruise through the Morrill lineup with ease. He had little deception in the pitches, as he threw straight fastballs every time that went untouched by the Morrill bats.
“I’ve seen some kids throw no-hitters, but never a perfect game,” said Liberty coach Danny Fuller. “Emmett has pitched good games for us with plenty of strikeouts, but he has never been perfect.”
While Shell was aware of the situation, his teammates were uncertain as to what was being done.
“I don’t think most of them knew I had a perfect game,” he said. “One of them came up to me said I had a no-hitter going, but they didn’t quite know.”
Fuller did not need to talk the 13-year-old through the outing, saying Shell was able to get himself through it.
“He has skills over and beyond a 13-year-old,” said Fuller. “He’s one of the only kids I let do what he needs to do out there without my supervision.”
Shell competes in the ages 9-12 division as Little League rules stipulate that a player’s eligibility is based on his age as of May 1. Shell turned 13 on May 20, but his Little League age is 12.
“He’s great at all sports, but especially baseball,” Fuller said. “He loves it, breathes it and it’s pretty much his life during the summer.”
Fuller believes this is the beginning of great potential for Shell because his skills and passion could continue to grow.
“He’s played all-stars for four years now and I can see him going along with it if he sticks with it,” Fuller said. “It can take him wherever he wants to go and if he wants to go big, then he will go big.”