When Kaleb Fulbright took the mound for Enochs High School on Thursday, little did he know a few hours later he'd be trampled by teammates and celebrating the school's first no-hitter.
"I told my catcher Cam (Cameron Irinaga) before the game that my arm felt good," the senior pitcher said. "I obviously didn't think I'd throw a no-hitter."
The right-hander struck out nine and walked five in leading the Eagles to a 6-0 victory over host Modesto.
It was just the second career Modesto Metro Conference start for Fulbright, who pitches mostly in relief.
When he woke up on Thursday, he knew he'd be pitching, but didn't know he'd get the start until he got to the game.
"Kaleb is a guy who works hard and he got the start today because of an injury to a couple of our pitchers," coach Matt Brown said. "We scheduled to throw two or three guys."
That was until Brown glanced at the scorebook after the fourth inning and noticed Fulbright hadn't given up a hit.
"We thought we were going to make a change, but saw something special was happening," Brown said. "I had a pitcher ready if he gave up a hit."
Guided by a mix of fastballs and curveballs, Fulbright was keeping Modesto hitters off balance during his roughly 110-pitch performance.
Fulbright said by the fifth inning, he started to realize what was happening, but tried not to let the moment control his mind.
In the last couple of innings while his team was hitting, he found refuge on a bucket outside of the dugout, away from his teammates. Baseball etiquette says teammates are to stay away from pitchers tossing a no-hitter, and most obliged.
In the sixth, he wrapped three strikeouts around a walk, Minutes later, he went to the mound knowing full well what was on the line.
To that point, the defense wasn't pressed with the exception of a few nice plays by third baseman Mike McGhee. The offense had the game in control thanks to Nikko Delgado (3-for-4, homer, two RBIs) and Landon Romero (2-for-4, two RBIs).
On the mound in the seventh, Fulbright tried to keep his emotions in check and not change what he'd been doing.
"I was really nervous," he said. "(Irinaga) said my arm was shaking and twitching."
Fulbright struck out the first batter and walked the second. He got the second out on a fly ball to center.
The final batter of the game ran the count full before hitting a high fly ball to right field that was squeezed tightly by Romero.
As the ball was in the air, Fulbright said to himself: "Yes, this is happening! This is happening!"
Moments later, he was being gang-tackled by his jubilant teammates.
"Everyone just started jumping on me and hitting me over the head," he said. "I kind of blanked out."
Said Brown: "It's great for a senior. He's been part of our program for four years."
Hours later at home, Fulbright had a career highlight ... his first no-hitter in one of the final games of his high school career.
"I still can't believe it," he said. "Waking up this morning, I would have never imagined it."
Bee Senior Editor for Digital Brian Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2362.