Ryan Edell knew he had good stuff warming up in the bullpen before his start Monday night. He didn't know that he'd come close to making history, though.
Edell took a perfect game into the eighth inning -- retiring the first 22 batters he faced -- as the Akron Aeros cruised past the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 7-1.
"It was definitely crossing my mind," Edell said of a possible perfecto. "I actually started thinking about it in the fourth. I looked up and realized they hadn't had a baserunner yet. I just tried to go at it one batter at a time, one pitch at a time."
The 24-year-old struck out Jacob Butler to open the bottom of the eighth and move within five outs of the first nine-inning perfect game in the Eastern League in over 65 years. Scott Campbell, who is third in the league in batting average at .351, worked the count full. After several foul balls, Campbell won the duel by laying off an Edell fastball that missed the zone for a walk
"I think I got a little too excited there," Edell said. "I should have taken a step back and calmed myself down. He did a good job of taking some close pitches and fouling off some good ones, then the fastball just sailed on me."
The no-hit bid was gone one batter later as Eric Nielsen delivered a clean single to left. Anthony Hatch followed with another base hit to left that plated Campbell to break up the shutout and knock Edell out of the game.
"I'm a little disappointed in myself for allowing my emotions to come into play," Edell said. "Maybe I was a little tired and, coming out of the stretch for the first time in the game, I got a little too much of the plate."
The Aeros handed Edell the lead before he even took the mound. A two-RBI single by Bronson Sardinha and sacrifice fly off the bat of Stephen Head gave Akron a 3-0 first inning advantage.
"It definitely made my job easier," the Boston native said. "Once we got the lead, I just wanted to stay aggressive with my fastball and try to get some quick outs.
Edell (3-4) finished up with five strikeouts and having allowed a run on two hits in 7 1/3 innings for his second straight win after a four-game losing streak.
Joshua Rodriguez drove in two runs and Chris Gimenez had three hits and scored twice.
Fisher Cats starter Brandon Magee (0-8) allowed four runs on six hits and five walks over six innings to take the loss.
There have been six perfect games in the Eastern League, the last a seven-inning effort by New Hampshire's Jamie Vermilyea in June 2004, and the Fisher Cats have never been no-hit in their history. Chet Covington tossed the only nine-inning perfect game in league history, for Scranton on May 23, 1943.