Ryan Cox sat alone in Forsyth Central’s dugout, staring towards right field.
The reason for Cox’s isolation is one of unbreakable baseball tradition, and it ended with the last pitch of the game, when the senior right-hander whiffed Cherokee’s Braxton Swanson to seal a seven-inning perfect game on Thursday night.
“I just turned to the dugout and was like, ‘I can’t believe this,’” Cox said. “This is happening.”
The closest Cox, a Piedmont College signee, had come to a no-hitter or a perfect game was when he threw a one-hitter against St. Pius X on junior varsity. Bulldogs head coach Kevin McCollum said he’d never had a pitcher throw a perfect game before Cox.
But on Thursday, Cox spotted all his pitches, worked quickly and rarely got into deep counts. He struck out eight in the performance.
“That was probably the best he’s looked all year, honestly,” Forsyth Central head coach Kevin McCollum said.
There were plenty of nerves among the Bulldogs, as much from the position players as from Cox.
“I was pretty nervous,” senior catcher Grant Cloud said. “I didn’t want to screw it all up.”
Cox’s last inning was fairly simple: A strikeout, a pop fly and another strikeout. He went to full counts on all three hitters, though.
“That scared the crap out of me,” Cloud said.
The timing of Cox’s outing could scarcely have been better, as the 4-0 win it sealed for the Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak. Heading into the Region 5-7A slate, they’ll have a fearsome group of slingers: A Vanderbilt commit in Ethan Hankins, a Georgia commit in Mitchell Gross and, in Cox, a player who’s accomplished one of the rarer feats in baseball.