Crawford talking to ESPN with shaving cream on his face following his no-hitter Friday night.
A no-hitter remains one of the sports world's most exciting moments. By the time the final batter steps to the plate, everyone in the stadium is standing in anticipation of history.
That was the case on Friday night at McKethan Stadium when Florida right-hander Jonathon Crawford faced Bethune-Cookman's Carlos Delgado with two outs in the ninth inning.
I've spent an unusually large chunk of my life in baseball press boxes and Crawford's no-hitter is the first I've covered in person. The only other one I've seen live was a combined no-hitter by Braves pitchers Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena in 1991.
That no-hitter against the Padres came just a few months after the last no-hitter in the NCAA Tournament prior to Crawford's – former Gator right-hander John Burke's no-no against Furman.
I found it quirky on a personal level that Delgado made the last out of the game Friday – Gators second baseman Casey Turgeon leaping to rob Delgado of a hit. Prior to Friday night, Carlos Delgado – the former major-leaguer – was responsible for one of my most memorable nights covering the game.
I was in Toronto for a meaningless Devil Rays-Blue Jays game at the SkyDome in late September 2003.
Delgado hit four home runs that night, the last major-leaguer to do so until earlier this season when Texas slugger Josh Hamilton cranked four home runs out in Baltimore.
No-hitters instantly wake history the way Johan Santana did on Friday, throwing the first no-no in the 50-year history of the New York Mets.
Gator fans will remember Crawford's gem in future years the way Mets fans will recall Santana's. That's what makes no-hitters so special.
Here are some interesting notes on Crawford's performance Friday night:
--He needed only 98 pitches in what Bethune-Cookman coach Jason Beverlin simply called a "dominant" performance. Crawford threw 19 first-pitch strikes to the minimum 27 hitters he faced.
--Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan said he stayed out of the way, allowing junior catcher Mike Zunino to call the game from the seventh inning on. O'Sullivan, who added that he hasn't called more than 50 percent of the pitches in any game this season, estimated he maybe called 10 on Friday night. That's how well Crawford and Zunino were working together.
--The three hardest balls the Wildcats hit were right at people: Nick Johnson's liner to Gators left fielder Justin Shafer to lead off the sixth, Brandon Turner's liner to right fielder Preston Tucker with one out in the seventh, and Delgado's line drive that Turgeon snagged.
--This nugget from ESPN Stats & Info is a gem: The last time there was an NCAA postseason no-hitter – Burke's on May 23, 1991 – there was also a no-hitter in the majors by the Phillies Tommy Greene against Montreal.
--There have been just seven no-hitters in the history of the NCAA Tournament and Florida is the only school with two – the last two. For more perspective, the only two NCAA Tournament no-hitters in the last 38 years took place at McKethan Stadium.
--Crawford got stronger as the game progressed. He is clocked regularly in the mid-90s on the radar gun, but in the ninth inning Friday, he was clocked at 98 mph on at least four different pitches.
--Crawford started the season as Florida's No. 4 starter after not even making last season's postseason roster. He said Friday that he used mostly his fastball and slider, mixing in a curveball and throwing one change-up.
--O'Sullivan is known for his pitching acumen as a former catcher and longtime pitching coach who has worked with several top prospects over the years. However, he said Crawford's no-hitter was the first he has experienced in coaching.
--Crawford retired 13 batters on ground outs, eight on fly balls/line drives, five by strikeout and Jake Welch, the only B-CU base runner when he walked in the third, was thrown out stealing by Zunino.