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MOBSTERS ZITO NO-HITS THE STALKERS

For Immediate Release
April 12th, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) — Barry Zito was standing behind the mound when the scoreboard caught his eye, confirming what he already knew: He was one out from a no-hitter. He froze. For a couple of seconds, the Chicago Mobsters’ pitcher didn’t move. “I said, ‘Wow. This hitter could be the last one,'” Zito said.  Then he collected himself and, in his 1st home start before the Chicago fans, finished up the great performance.
The 28-year-old Mobsters finished off what might have been the best four games in Mobsters History Thursday Afternoon. Zito benefiting from three defensive gems by teammates to lead the Mobsters over the Yonge Street Stalkers 5-0.
“This is the best moment of my life,” Zito said. “You never think that’s going to happen.”
One of three lefties in the Chicago rotation, Zito (2-1) walked two, threw 103 pitches, struck out seven.
Zito finished it off in quick fashion in the ninth. He got Brian Schneider on a routine ground ball to second baseman Marco Scutaro. Johnny Gomez struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch, and then retired Ryan Freel on a sharp grounder to shortstop Derek Jeter who came on in the top of the 9th for defensive purposes, who fielded the ball carefully on one knee before throwing to first for the out.
“The last ground ball, I wasn’t going to flub that,” said Jeter. “It wasn’t going to get past me.”
Before Jeter even threw the ball, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman began sprinting toward Zito and was the first to arrive with a hug. Players poured out of the Mobsters dugout en masse and swarmed around the pitcher, with the jubilant mob collectively hopping as one between the mound and third base.
“That was a lot of bouncing,” said James Loney, who caught Jeter’s throw for the final out. “It’s once-in-a-lifetime for a lot of people.”
Zito’ teammates then hoisted him on their shoulders.
“The most special moment was his face and how proud he was — and exhausted,” right fielder Vernon Wells said. Wells sprinted in to make a diving catch and rob Nick Johnson to end the fourth.
Zito pointed and thrust his fists to the sell out crowd, where his girlfriend(s) sat in stands.
“They were there,” he said, his eyes wet with tears of joy. “I don’t know, I can’t say any more. I was so happy to have them there.”
It was the first no-hitter for Chicago since Felix Hernandez threw his last year on June 8.
“Congratulations to him,” Hernandez said, after himself pitching on Tuesday night against the Stalkers.
The Stalkers came close to a hit several times, but were denied by a Mobsters defense. Scutaro ranged to his left to snare a grounder by David Wright in the seventh, then whirled and threw to beat the runner by half a step. Zito greeted Scutaro coming off the field with a high-five and a slap on the rear. “To be on the other end is not fun,” David Wright of the Stalkers said. “It’s embarrassing.”

Scutaro repaid the favor after making the last out, smashing a shaving-cream filled towel in Zito’ face as he spoke to the television cameras.
“Maybe I’ll have to shave after the game, but I am not sure I can even grow a beard” Zito quipped.
“When I sat on the bench in the eighth, I thought, ‘Maybe this is my town, my team, my day,'” Zito said.
The hardest-hit ball was in the seventh by David Wright, who smashed a long fly ball to deep centerfield that Andruw Jones dove to his left and made what might be the best catch of the year.
Chicago scored first with a home run in the 3rd by Marco Scutaro. RBI Doubles off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman scored two and James Loney knocked in one as well. Willy Taveras chipped in with RBI single for a total of 5 runs all Chicago would need.
Announced attendance was 42,561, but the actual crowd sounded like it was well over 50,000. The surprising Mobsters are now in second place behind the surprising Tijuana Bottle Rockets who are two games up.
“In the midst of what were six wild games, we have a player who steps up and throws a no-hitter,” manager Antonio Corrado said. “That’s pretty amazing, that the team had 3 come from behind wins in their last at-bats, and then Zito goes out and does this.”
Zito retired the first 15 batters, then fell behind Austin Kearns 3-0 and walked him on a 3-2 pitch. Nick Johnsons’ line-out and Wells skidding catch in right ended the inning.
“You don’t know, but you’re hoping the ball is going to stay in the air long enough to get under it,” Wells said.
Rafael Furcal walked later in the game on four pitches but Yorvit Torrealba threw out Furcal trying to swipe second.
Zito’s longest previous start was 5.2 innings, but he had plenty left at the end. His fastball usually is in the 89-91 mph range, but in the ninth he reached 94. His final pitch was a nasty curveball that Ryan Freel ground to Jeter.
“He threw harder the last couple of innings than he did the whole game,” Stalkers General Manager Scott Farquharson said. “I don’t think we squared up on one or two balls the whole night. He had everything going.”
Zito threw mostly spotty fastballs, and curves, but catcher Yorvit Torrealba said he called more fast balls from the left-hander than usual — about 12 — because the curveball pitch was so effective against lefties.
“I never seen a breaking ball like that before,” Torrealba said.
The no-hitter was the Third in the Mobsters’ 11-season history, and the first since Felix Hernandez threw one against Tijuana on June 8, 2006. The only other pitcher to throw a no-hit for the Mobsters was Joel Pineiro, who beat Coconut Creek 6-0 on September 3rd, 2004.
Chicago acquired Zito last November, along with Ray Durham and Jason Grilli in the trade that sent Chone Figgins and Dan Haren to the Iron City Yinzers. After two poor outings last week in Detroit, Zito was more than Impressive in his first start in the Windy City.
As memorable as that day may have been, it will forever pale in comparison. Zito said he never before came close to pitching a no-hitter at any level.
“I’m going to remember this,” he said, “every morning, every day.

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