Tyler Fritsch knew he was throwing a perfect game by the fourth inning. (Photo credit: Shadarra Welton.)

Bell Creek Academy senior pitcher Tyler Fritsch realized he was in the midst of a special outing in the fourth inning when he noticed the opposing lead-off hitter taking practice swings in the on-deck circle between innings. Fortunately, Fritsch had been in the exact same spot the prior year against the same team and knew what it would take to be perfect.

“My fastball was very much on, I could throw it wherever I wanted it,” he said. “I noticed that the zone was consistently low and I could just hit my spot every time with my fastball, and my changeup was on too, so it was really easy to keep the batters off balance with the fastball-changeup combination.”

The pressure was off of Fritsch because he had already thrown a perfect game against Cambridge Christian last year. He has carried the confidence from that game into his hot start early this season.

“I didn’t think much about it because I came in with the mentality that I already threw one,” said Fritsch. “I go into every game thinking, ‘You already threw a perfect game, so you can’t really do much better, so don’t think about it too much.’ If I lost it, I wasn’t going to be too concerned about it, so I just kept dealing with that poise and composure, I guess. You can’t beat a perfect game, it’s about as good as it gets.”

Fritsch was on the same page as his battery mate, senior catcher Jacob Ananias, who was calling the pitches. The pitcher was comfortable with his catcher, who previously caught all of his starts this season. Fritsch only needed 66 pitches in six innings while striking out 12 batters to complete the perfect game. The Panthers mercy-ruled the Lancers.

“My reaction after the last out was relief and shock because by the fourth inning, everyone knew what was going on and all we wanted to do was keep from jinxing it,” said Ananias. “I have never caught a perfect game before and, I gotta say, it’s a great thing to be a part of.”

The senior enjoyed his second career perfect game a little more than the first because he was able to record the last out and finish the game on the mound. His team’s 10-run ruled Cambridge Christian in the bottom of the inning on offense the last time. He felt more dominant this outing as opposed to last time because he struck out 12 instead of just five. Fritsch was first congratulated by his third baseman after the pitcher fielded the last out on a bunt attempt and then his coach as he celebrated with his teammates on the field.

“I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of something so special and am glad I get to catch a pitcher of this level,” said Ananias.

The pitcher ranks this achievement as his favorite moment of his career. He gives credit to his coach, Frank Burke, who he’s played with for seven seasons at Bell Creek. Fritsch hopes to bring his hot streak into postseason play. For now, he just wants to help his team win more games.

“It doesn’t take a perfect outing every time to win games,” said Fritsch. “It’s always a team effort. I want to keep performing for my team. They trust me a lot, so it makes it a lot easier to go out and do my job when you know that everyone has your back.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.