LOS ANGELES — Loyola Marymount left-handed pitcher Matt Florer is going to ache all over when he wakes up Wednesday morning. His teachers will have to forgive him if he sleeps in and is running a little behind.
He is going to be sore…probably real sore after throwing 134 pitches, but Matt Florer is also going to have a cheek-to-cheek smile beaming across his face after he threw a complete game no-hitter, the first by an LMU pitcher since 1980, in a 5-0 win over Cal State Northridge Tuesday afternoon at George Page Stadium.
Florer had only started twice this season. Last week, in a start against USC, he pitched two innings. It was his longest outing of the season. He had only thrown 13 1/3 innings this year and the longest outing of his career was only five innings in a midweek start last season.
So how did Jason Gill get nine innings of no-hit ball from a reliever thrust into the midweek starter spot due to injury?
“To be honest, our plan was to go with him until he got into trouble and when he got into trouble we were going to staff it,” Gill said after the game, with a smile on his face. “And he never really got into trouble.”
After Florer cruised through the seventh inning, Gill said he and pitching coach Danny Ricabal had planned to take out Florer with his pitch count already above 80, but Florer pleaded his case and Gill gave the team the final say. A din of Lions’ roars burst out of the dugout as the players stood behind the senior lefty.
In the eighth inning, Florer hit the leadoff batter on an 0-2 slider and walked the next man, drawing a visit from Ricabal. To the surprise of many, including Gill, Ricabal didn’t signal to the bullpen, but with a 5-0 lead, he only told Florer it was his game. Ricabal also reinforced attacking hitters and that’s exactly what Florer did, getting a flyball and a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play that featured a bare-handed grab by Cullen Mahoney on David Edwards’ flip to second base.
Northridge (22-18) was again able to get the leadoff hitter on in the ninth inning on Florer’s fifth walk of the game, but it didn’t matter. The veteran southpaw got a flyout and a fielder’s choice before getting Josh Goossen-Brown to wave at a full-count off-speed pitch down and away to complete the no-hitter with his fifth strikeout.
Then the celebration began with Florer being swallowed in the arms of fellow senior, catcher Colton Plaia, who described the no-hitter as “the most unbelievable feeling you could ever feel.”
LMU (21-19) opened up a 5-0 lead with two runs in the third inning, one in the fourth and two in the fifth that gave Florer and the coaching staff a buffer zone to go after the no-hitter. Plaia was one of five Loyola Marymount hitters to reach base multiple times as the Lions knocked 10 hits. Tommy Cheek had one of those hits and drove in two runs.
Check out TWO PHOTO GALLERIES, starting with the 22-shot photo gallery from Tuesday’s action:
And a look at the final out and subsequent celebration of Matt Florer’s no-hitter: