FREDERICK — FREDERICK -- Baseball clown Max Patkin takes one turn at bat in every minor-league ballpark he visits. He recalls getting only four hits in 75 games last year. But Wednesday night, he alone conquered Erik Schullstrom.
Schullstrom threw the first no-hitter in Frederick Keys' history, but he gave up a single to Patkin warming up for the sixth inning of his 2-0 victory over the Kinston Indians in a Class A Carolina League game.
Well, sort of a single.
Patkin, 71, lifted a soft liner into centerfield, then jogged to third in his usual manner. The Keys were just finishing infield practice, and third baseman Tony Beasley completed the gag by making the tag.
Schullstrom, 22, broke up laughing with everyone else, then plowed through the final four innings for his first no-hitter since high school. Afterward, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander conceded that Patkin "hit the fastball."
"He didn't throw it that easy," Patkin said. "It wasn't real hard, don't get me wrong. But when I came back to the dugout, I hollered to the guys, 'You better get him out of there, he's losing it.' "
Stick to the clown act, Max: Schullstrom threw 108 pitches, 78 for strikes. It was a stunning performance considering he was sidelined earlier this season because of a shoulder problem.
He had worked only 27 2/3 innings before Wednesday night, but it didn't show. His fastball registered 86 mph, and he struck out six and walked only two against the top-hitting club in the Carolina League.
Schullstrom (2-2, 1.96) was the Orioles' No. 2 pick behind righthander Mike Mussina in the 1990 draft. He split last season between Class A Wausau and Frederick after signing out of Fresno State.
As for Patkin, he had met him once before, at Wausau. "I had my picture taken with him and my pitching coach," Schullstrom said. "In fact, I have it in my wallet right now."