“It was all working,” stated Mineola’s Cole Castleberry as he described the perfect game he hurled June 1 to open the American Sporting events (ASE) summer baseball season.
The perfect game achievement, which is defined by not allowing a single opposing baserunner, contained all the elements of quality pitching: great control, excellent pitch selection and the ability to make each pitch. A perfect game is among the most renowned achievements in baseball.
Castleberry was throwing for the team Performance Baseball in the opening game of the 18-and-under ASE tournament at UT Tyler. Behind Castleberry’s stellar performance, the team took the opening game 6-0 and went on to win the tourney.
Castleberry chucked 84 pitches in the complete seven-inning game, with 61 being strikes. He recorded eight strikeouts while setting down 21 consecutive hitters.
Quick to compliment his teammates, Castleberry lauded his catcher, Chase Amick of Hallsville, on his pitch calling and target placement. Remarkably, it was the first time that he and Amick had teamed as battery mates. “He kept the hitters off balance all night,” Castleberry remarked.
As happens in any closely pitched game, the team was challenged a couple of times in the field, but the defense came through with plays to keep the bases empty. Castleberry noted that Spring Hill’s Ryan Lepire, the second baseman, made an outstanding over-the-shoulder catch in short right field to spear a potential Texas Leaguer and preserve the perfect game.
Castleberry knew in the second inning that it could be a special night.
“The curveball was working, and there was movement on my fastball,” he stated.
Once the team began to appreciate that something special was happening, the old adage of not talking about it in the dugout was strictly enforced.
This is Castleberry’s second year playing select summer league ball. The Performance Baseball team features players from across East Texas – Brownsboro, Mineola, Mount Pleasant, Spring Hill, Tatum and Van. The team practices twice a week, once in Kilgore and once at a rotational field.
The son of Chris and Sheree Castleberry, Cole was a stalwart of the Mineola High School baseball team this season, and he also competes as a defensive back on the football team. His father, Chris, has coached his son in baseball since tee-ball.
As the perfect game ended, Castleberry admitted that the meaning of the achievement began to set in. “The key to pitching is to move the ball around,” he summarized in an understated manner.
As a proud grandfather and former Mineola standout athlete, Charles Castleberry, pointed out, “The thing about Cole that makes me most proud is that he is an All-District Academic.”