The Pac-12 Conference, by whatever name or alignment, has played conference baseball games for the past 100 years. Thousands upon thousands of games later, no one threw a perfect game in league play until an Oregon State freshman from Spokane celebrated a century of college baseball in grand style Saturday afternoon against Washington State.
Drew Rasmussen retired all 27 batters in order in a 3-0 victory in Corvallis. He threw just 103 pitches in a game that lasted 1 hour, 44 minutes. Louisville Slugger named Rasmussen the national college Pitcher of the Week Monday.
Rasmussen, whose fastball has been clocked at 97 mph, was still coming to grips with his place in history when he was interviewed Sunday by the Pac-12 Networks.
“I don’t think I fully understand the magnitude of what truly happened,” Rasmussen said. “I don’t know if I ever will.”
Rasmussen, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound right-hander, is the first Oregon State pitcher to throw a perfect game, and the first Pac-12 pitcher to throw a nine-inning perfect game. The other three perfect games in Pac-12 history were thrown in seven-inning non-conference games by WSU pitchers: Rick Austin against Gonzaga in 1968, Larry Angell against Eastern Washington in 1971 and Joe McIntosh against Whitworth in 1973. Eastern and Whitworth were NAIA programs at the time.
Rasmussen struck out 10 and did not allow a ball to reach the outfield until the final out of the sixth inning. He improved his record to 3-0, and his earned run average dipped to 1.36. He’s second in the Pac-12 in ERA and fourth in strikeouts (40) and innings pitched (39.2).
A crowd of 2,875 witnessed history at Goss Stadium. After the game, Rasmussen’s parents, Mark and Kim, greeted their son on the field in front of the scoreboard that saluted Drew for his perfecto.
“It was a special moment,” Rasmussen said. “It was nice to be able to spend it with the family. They’ve helped me so much throughout the years.”
To gain perspective on Rasmussen’s achievement, consider the fact that Cy Young Award (pitcher of the year) winners in the major leagues include former Pac-12 players Randy Johnson, Tom Seaver and Barry Zito of USC and Tim Lincecum of Washington. They never threw a perfect game in college.
“I don’t think people realize how ‘crazy’ a perfect game is,” said Alex Schuerman, Rasmussen’s coach at Mount Spokane High School.
Oregon State has fielded baseball teams since 1907 and won the College World Series in 2006 and ‘07, but Rasmussen was the first Beaver to throw a perfect game. He did so in a league that has won far more College World Series (17) than any other conference and has produced Hall of Fame players such as Johnson, Seaver, Reggie Jackson (Arizona State) and Joe Gordon (Oregon). Not to mention a long list of other major league standouts, including Barry Bonds (Arizona State), Trevor Hoffman (Arizona), Mark McGwire (USC) and John Olerud (Washington State).
Rasmussen was dominant as a senior at Mount Spokane last year (11-1, 0.57), but he was not heavily recruited. The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted him in the 39th round. He likely would have gone higher if not for his commitment to Oregon State.
“He’s one of those special kids,” Schuerman said. “You’re excited for him to be successful because he works so hard at it. He’s the consummate team guy.”
Rasmussen grew up a Washington Huskies fan, and the Huskies, Cougars and Gonzaga offered him partial scholarships. Oregon State made the best offer, and the Cougars suffered the consequences when they faced Rasmussen for the first time.
“It’s been an unreal day,” Rasmussen said after the game. “It’s been awesome. It’s been so much fun. Not much more I can say. Pretty surreal right now.”