With Mr. October Reggie Jackson in Trenton on Thursday night to accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the son of another familiar Yankees face got a chance to show fans why he might have people chanting his name in the Bronx one day.
Jaron Long took a perfect game into the sixth inning and finished with seven strikeouts over a season-high eight innings in the Double-A Trenton Thunder's 3-0 win over the visiting New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
The 22-year-old right-hander scattered four hits and issued one walk, throwing 65 of 105 pitches for strikes while lowering his ERA to 2.54.
"When a Hall of Famer steps in on you, maybe you get it going early," Long told the Trentonian after Jackson threw out the ceremonial first pitch and then stood in the batter's box.
Long retired the first 16 batters of the game before Kevin Nolan stroked a one-out line drive to right field with one out in the sixth. Gustavo Pierre followed with a base hit to left field, but Long stranded both runners in scoring position by striking out Matt Newman to elicit a nice ovation from the fans at ARM & HAMMER Park.
"A few big-time baseball fans probably started it and everybody kicked in," Long told the newspaper. "That was pretty cool."
He worked around Andy Burns' leadoff single in the seventh by inducing a 6-4-1 double play off the bat of Brad Glenn and he left Melky Mesa -- who hit a two-out single to left field later that inning -- on base by retiring Sean Ochinko on a groundout to erase the threat.
Only one other player reached base against Long, but Pierre's two-out walk in the eighth was nullified by Jon Berti's soft groundout to end the inning.
"You always try to have your legs under you and you work all year long to be strong in the late innings," said Long, the son of Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. "That's when the game means the most."
Signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent last August, the Ohio State product has impressed in his first full season in the Minors. He went 3-1 with a 1.64 in 11 games, including four starts, for Class A Charleston and he posted a 2-2 record with a 2.77 mark in six appearances with Class A Advanced Tampa. Across the three levels, Long is 11-4 with a 2.25 ERA.
On Thursday, James Pazos replaced Long in the ninth and set down all three batters to seal the shutout, Trenton's seventh of the season.