DENVER — Not much in this world can be described as perfect. But that's the only word fitting enough for Cade Crader's last outing on the mound for Metro State University Denver.
The senior faced 27 batters and sat each of them down without a hit or a walk, tossing 10 strikeouts in the process. He was perfect -- for the first time in RMAC history.
"After, when everyone was cheering me on and running onto the field, it's a feeling that's hard to beat," Crader said.
Head Coach Ryan Strain got emotional at the thought of the moment.
"It was just awesome. There was pandemonium," he said. "All of the coaches, we were just standing in the dugout and watched our guys run around. Just to see how happy our team was for their teammate, was probably the best thing for me."
It began as an ordinary Saturday start from a consistent senior.
"When he started, it was just like another Cade Crader start," Strain said. "He was filling up the strike zone, he wasn't walking anybody, we were making plays behind him. We felt really good about it. I didn't really realize it was going to happen before the game happened, by any means."
As the strikes and outs tallied up, so did the tension.
"I was starting to get into my head a little bit, so I needed some conversation to distract me a little bit.," Crader said. "I was trying to talk to them, I could tell people were almost actively avoiding me."
The Roadrunners dared not speak the words that started with "p" and "g," but Crader was craving a little TLC.
"I think for him, he was just trying to keep it as normal as he possibly could and not try to think about it too much before he got out there," Strain said. "It was unique the way he was handling it, but there were several times afterward talking to him that he said he wanted to guys to talk to him but no one wanted to be the one to be the one to throw him off of his game."
Both men said the moment hit them in the 7th inning, when the 2-3 hitters were due up.
"All of the sudden it got really quiet," Strain said. "The other thing I noticed is that our stadium got really quiet. It was the first time we were allowed fans and they were loud in the first few innings, but once things got rolling, no one would say anything."
A stadium that was all of the sudden filled with familiarity and jubilance.
"I walked out and they were all standing there waiting for me to come out. I gave them a big hug and they were all excited," Crader said. "It's kind of cheesy, but my dad has always been there for me and he's been a big baseball guy growing up. He was my little league coach and then helped me through middle school and high school. He's been to every game that he can come to."
It was a moment unmatched by any other, Crader said. Not even his first home run in Aurora Little League or countless moments on Grandview High School's baseball team could measure up. His father, however, was present at each of these.
"His dad is at every game that he pitches," Strain said. "For him to get that moment with his dad was unbelievable. We gave him the lineup card so he can hopefully get that framed and put it up in his room and remember that forever."