On an April afternoon at Phoenixville Area High School, Kevin Cushing was perfect. The junior pitcher for the Phoenixville Phantoms defeated the Trojans of conference rival Pottstown High School, 7-0, and never allowed a base runner.
Over seven innings, 21 batters came to the plate to face Cushing. He retired all 21. No hits, walks, or errors.
It was in the 4th inning that both Cushing and his Coach Neil Herman realized what was happening.
“I just realized that nobody got on base and I tried not to think about it as much as I could, just focused on pitching,” said Cushing. “I never really thought about throwing a perfect game.”
“I looked back at my charts and said I don’t even think they’ve been on base,” said Herman. “At that point I’m like alright we’re only in the 4th inning, there’s still nine outs to go. When it really got to me was after the 5th. Now we have a legitimate shot here. He’s still mowing them down with all three of his pitches. I think I was more nervous than Kevin was. That’s when it really started to sink in.”
Herman confirmed that after the 5th inning the entire Phoenixville dugout kept with baseball tradition and avoided talking about Cushing’s performance to avoid jinxing it.
Despite pitching himself into three full counts, including the last batter of the game, Cushing remained focused and never doubted that he’d be able to close it out. “I was pretty confident and my defense was supporting behind me. I just knew that I had to throw strikes,” he said.
Cushing said that before the game, he could tell that he had his best stuff. “In warm-ups my splitter was feeling really good, and so was my curveball.”
Herman agreed that he could tell that Cushing was going to pitch a great game. “I tell Kev all the time, when he gets ahead of hitters, he is very good. When he starts off first pitch strike, he has a chance to take over because he’s got three pitches. I told him before I know when he’s on. In the first inning, if he’s getting ahead of guys, it’s going to be a long day for the other team.”
The game that afternoon was a launching pad for Phoenixville’s season. The Phantoms started the season 0-3 and were 1-4 before Cushing took the hill that day. After Cushing’s perfect game, they went 9-3 to finish the regular season with an 11-7 record.
Cushing finishes the season with a 0.61 ERA and 3-1 record. He also tied with his teammate, senior Matt Osisek’ Byrne, for the most strikeouts in the Pioneer Athletic Conference with 39Ks.
For his senior season, Cushing said that his goal is to just keep getting better. His coach sees a clear path for him to play at the next level.
“I think that Kevin has a real good shot at playing Division 1 baseball,” said Herman. “He’s got the size and the frame that they’re looking for and his academics are excellent.” He then added, “Every time that Kevin steps on the mound we’ve got a legitimate shot to win a game against anybody.”