History might only remember Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter in the Washington Nationals final regular season game in 2014 but it will be a special memory for rookie Steven Souza Jr.
The 25-year-old took an unbelievable diving catch in the bottom of the ninth against Miami Marlins to clinch Zimmermann’s no-no so spectacular style.
The right fielder was a defensive substitution in place of Ryan Zimmermann at the death and was placed at left field as the Nationals held a 1-0 lead. Christian Yelich stepped up to the plate with two outs and smashed a beauty down left-centre field and Zimmerman’s hands went to his head as he thought his perfect game had gone.
Not if Souza could do anything about it.
The youngster sprinted across and with his back to the play he dived at full stretch and incredibly plucked the ball out of the sky.
Speaking to MLB.com, Souza said: “It was just a great catch at a great time. I knew it was going to be extremely close, because I knew I was going to have to lay out. Once I got close, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this thing is going to be pretty close,’ so I took off.”
The catch secured Zimmermann’s first career no-hitter and won the game for the Nationals, giving them a 96-66 regular season record as they head to the playoffs as National League East champions.
The victory gave the Nationals the perfect send off as they head into the postseason and team morale couldn't be higher.
Souza explained he was just happy he could help his teammate out and felt honoured.
"To be a part of it, it was just an honour to me," the Nationals rookie said. "I just want to make the play for him. That catch was just a small part of the whole game. It’s awesome what he did today."
Taking the plaudits
The rookie outfielder may never take a better or more significant catch in his entire MLB career so Souza allowed himself to enjoy it.
After the Nationals bench ran on to the infield and celebrated with Zimmermann they went over to the delighted Souza and the pitcher giving his man a massive hug.
“He just said, ‘I love you. Great catch,” Souza confessed.
The Nationals will now wait to find out who they will face in the playoffs. As Washington posted the top season record in the National Leagues they will play against the winner of the Wild Card playoff between the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.
The five-game National League division series will begin at Nationals Park on Friday 3rd October.