King Of Ks: Belmont High Southpaw Sets Strikeout Record [VIDEO]

Photo: The Belmont High battery of junior Nate Espelin (right) and senior Cal Christofori that set a school strikeout record. 

“Nothing special.” 

That’s how Belmont High junior southpaw pitcher Nate Espelin described his day on the mound last week, Wednesday, April 19, against an undefeated Wilmington High Wildcats. 

Coming off a no-decision in his first start of the season – a two-run, six strikeout performance in the home opener against Melrose – Espelin was seeking his first win of the junior campaign pitching away from home against a league rival.

Espelin did get his first victory last week, and more. Much more.

In a game of a lifetime, Espelin registered a school record 19 strikeouts in a 1-0 complete game (7 innings) shutout of host Wilmington. What was amazing – besides getting all but two batters out (19 of 21) via the K – is that Espelin struck out the final 18 batters he faced. 

While the state’s interscholastic athletic association does not keep individual game pitching records, it appears that Espelin’s showing was a rare one, with just a few example of a pitcher striking out 21 batters in a game, without knowing the competitiveness of the opposition. 

In explaining his extraordinary effort, the soft-spoken, unflustered junior shrugged and said he had not done anything differently.
His battery partner, senior captain catcher Cal Christofori, didn’t even know the number of Ks until he was told after the final out.
“I was trying to mix up (the pitch selection),” said Christofori, saying Espelin was hitting his glove on nearly every pitch. Because he was hitting the corners of the plate, many of Espelin’s victims were sent back to the bench without a swing at the third strike. 
While he did admit the day was a special one, Espelin hopes he has the confidence to return to the mound “to challenge the batters the same way I did [in Wilmington].”
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