Facing his first batter of the year since injuring his left arm one day before the season opener, senior right-hander John O’Flaherty recorded a strikeout on a 3-2 count.
He threw seven more pitches and completed the sixth inning without allowing a baserunner in Loyola’s 8-1 win over Glenbrook South on Friday in Glenview.
“I was nervous when I came out, and I had a lot of emotions going through me,” O’Flaherty said. “But [senior catcher] Brian Vance came out to the mound after I warmed up and told me to control I what I can control. He told me everybody in the dugout was rooting for me.”
O’Flaherty was pegged as one of Loyola’s starting pitchers in the preseason until a freak accident resulted in a dislocated elbow and a broken radius.
“I was told I would be out for the season,” O’Flaherty said. “That was tough to hear.”
But O’Flaherty didn’t let the diagnosis deter him. As soon as he could, he started throwing with teammates to maintain his arm strength.
On Wednesday, he was cleared to pitch in a game.
“It never crept into my mind that he would be ready to go this season,” Loyola head coach Nick Bridich said. “But Johnny is a phenomenal kid, and he was quietly working out on his own, keeping himself in shape. It’s a credit to him that he pitched [Friday].”