Purcell and Kitko combine for no-hitter

Joey Purcell and Michael Kitko combine for the ninth no-hitter in program history

Published by Ryan Mosher, Date: April 4, 2024
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Slippery Rock University had not seen a no-hitter since 2022, until March 17 when Joeseph Purcell and Michael Kitko combined to complete the no-hitter against Saint Anselm College.

“I feel like we’re kind of the same, [Kitko] throws a little bit harder than me, especially that day,” Purcell said when talking about his and Kitko’s pitching repertoire.

Purcell had a game plan going into the matchup and executed it almost to perfection.

“We knew going into the third game that they were going to chase a lot of off-speed…I think I threw 94 pitches and 70 of them were sliders or curveballs,” Purcell said about his pitch selection.

Purcell struck out nine batters and used the hitters’ aggressive tendencies to get ahead in the count.

“A lot of the teams we face, the hitters like to swing at the first pitch, so we try to get ahead with an off-speed pitch,” Purcell said.

After a dominant seven innings pitched by Purcell, Kitko came in to close out the last two innings.

Kitko had a different approach to facing the Saint Anselm hitter than Purcell did.

“I threw mostly fastballs and mixed in a cutter or curveball every once and a while,” Kitko said.

The change in approach kept the hitters off-balance and did not allow them to get comfortable.

Kitko’s mentality was no different than usual. He said it was “basically the same,” and all he needed to do was “stay loose.”

“They told me I was going come in this game…two innings before I came in, I threw a couple pitches off of the mound,” Kitko said.

Kitko also added a two-run homerun to the scoresheet in the eighth inning.

This was not the first no-hitter that Purcell has been a part of. The first instance was during the summer when he started college.

His mindset was different during that outing.

“I came in the bullpen the last time so you kind of know what is going on, so you go in thinking I can’t screw this up,” Purcell said.

Purcell has also been on the other side of the fence in this scenario. He was working on a no-hitter in the sixth inning of a game last year against Pitt-Johnstown University’s Mountain Cats when he gave up a hit.

“When you give up that hit, especially that late into the game, it is kind of demoralizing,” Purcell said.

It was “very exciting” for Purcell to complete the no-hitter this time around.

The reaction was a little different for Kitko.

“I had to ask because no one celebrated,” Kitko said.

An unwritten rule in baseball is never talk about a no-hitter until it is completed. So, while Kitko was locked in, nobody told him he was trying to finish off a no-hitter.

No-hitters are among the more mentally challenging feats in sports to complete. Hits happen all the time, and they can come straight from luck on bad contact.

Mental and physical preparation is of the utmost importance. As for Kitko, the night he pitches. He needs “just eight hours of sleep.”

Purcell’s preparation is a little less typical. He prefers “two double cheeseburgers.”

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