SPORTS

Souza's diving catch saves Zimmermann's no-hitter

09/29/2014 01:59 EDT | Updated 11/28/2014 05:59 EST
This time, Steven Souza Jr. steered clear of the outfield fence, and caught the ball.

With Washington Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann no-hitting Miami on Sunday, Souza entered the game in the top of the ninth inning as a defensive replacement.

Zimmermann retired Adeiny Hechavarria and Jarrod Saltalamacchia before Marlins left-handed hitting outfielder Christian Yelich launched a fly ball into the left-centre field gap. Seconds later, he made a spectacular behind-the-shoulder catch for the final out to save the first no-hitter in Nationals history.

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“To be a part of it, it’s just an honour to me. Every ball, I want hit at me. I just want to make the play for him,” said Souza of Zimmermann.

The pitcher figured the ball would drop for extra bases.

“I thought that was a double for sure, and he [Souza] comes out of nowhere and makes the play,” Zimmermann said.

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Souza, who hit .350 with a .432 on-base percentage and 18 home runs in 96 games for triple-A Syracuse this season, was the Nationals’ minor league player of the year.

Less than a week ago, he expressed a desire to improve his skills in the outfield.

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In early August, Souza was forced to leave a 7-6 loss to the hometown Atlanta Braves with an inflamed left shoulder after he crashed into the right-field wall at full speed as a Freddie Freeman hit off Stephen Strasburg cleared the fence for a two-run home run.

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“Once he gets more and more playing time, he will have a lot better awareness [about which] balls are not going to be caught,” Strasburg said at the time.

Sunday’s play was a step in the right direction.

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