Washington's Joe DeMers Throws Perfect Game
Righthander Joe DeMers knew Saturday would be a good day for him on the mound from the time he started playing catch to warm up for his start. It turned out to be a great day for the Washington junior.
DeMers threw a perfect game against UC Riverside (2-4) in an 8-0 victory in the Game 1 of a doubleheader. It was the first perfect game in program history and the first nationally since Loyola Marymount’s Cory Abbot threw one last March.
Washington (4-2) won the nightcap, 5-2, to sweep the doubleheader.
DeMers said he knew all game that he was working on a perfect game. He stuck to his typical game plan and trusted pitching coach Jason Kelly.
“Me and JK were on the same page the whole game, which made it easier,” DeMers said. “I was pounding the zone with my fastball and breaking ball early and it worked well.”
The last no-hitter in program history was a combined no-hitter in 2006 by Tim Linececum and Nick Hagadone. DeMers was able to complete his, however, because of his ultra-efficient approach. He threw just 84 pitches to become the fourth Husky to complete a no-hitter. He struck out nine batters and threw 76 percent of his pitches for strikes.
DeMers stands out most for his fastball and changeup, and both were very effective against UCR. His fastball sat 89-91 mph with sinking action and he mixed in a good changeup. His slider was also critical for his success, as he was able to throw it early in the count to set up his fastball and changeup.
Baseball America College Podcast: Rewatching the 2018 Oxford Regional Final
Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy break down the 2018 Oxford Regional final with former Tennessee Tech coach and current Rice coach Matt Bragga.
Most importantly, DeMers was locating all his pitches.
“I was throwing first pitch strikes as much as I could, like I always try to,” he said. “They were swinging aggressively and there were a lot of groundouts up the middle. Ben Baird made a great play down the third base line. The defense helped me a lot.”
Saturday’s start was representative of the strides DeMers has made in college. He ranked No. 91 on the BA 500 in 2015 coming out of College Park High in in Pleasant Hill, Calif., and the next spring stepped right into the Washington rotation. But he said he was more of a thrower when he got to campus. After working with Kelly for three years he has learned how to think more about his craft.
“JK has really taught me how to pitch, how to set hitters up,” DeMers said. “He teaches me what he sees, the small batter tendencies. I’m changing from a thrower to a pitcher.”
DeMers’ development is important as scouts evaluate him leading up to the draft in June, but it is also critical for Washington. He has taken over as the Huskies’ ace after Noah Bremer was last year drafted in the sixth round. Demers has taken to that role so far, as he is 1-0, 0.00 with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 15 innings through two starts.
In addition to his on-field role of ace, DeMers said he has enjoyed taking on more of a leadership role this season.
“I love it,” he said. “I like leading by example, filling up the zone with strikes and being the guy the team can count on.”
So far, the Huskies have been able to do just that. And if DeMers keeps pitching like he did Saturday, Washington may be able to ride its ace back to the NCAA Tournament.