He needed a couple of mistakes to make it happen. But Charleston's Malcolm Van Buren got it done.
The former Hanahan High star made baseball history Wednesday night while pitching for the Burlington Royals, a rookie league affiliate of the Kansas City franchise.
As he jogged to the dugout after a bizarre seventh inning, Van Buren was just happy he didn't surrender a run after loading the bases. He had no idea what he had just accomplished.
The feat? Van Buren recorded five strikeouts in a single inning, something that’s only been done one other time on the minor league level, and never in the majors.
The Hanahan native was selected by the Royals in the 31st round of the 2016 draft.
After striking out the first batter he faced Wednesday, Van Buren did the same against the next one, but strike 3 got away and the batter reached first base safely.
Van Buren fanned the next batter for his third strikeout of the inning, but officially there were only two outs because of the wild pitch.
So Van Buren did it again. But once again, the third strike got past the catcher.
Malcolm Van Buren, a Hanahan High School senior pitcher and N.C. State signee, plans to major in Finance if he doesn’t sign a professional bas…
Two runners on base, two outs, four strikeouts.
Van Buren walked the fifth batter to load the bases before getting out of the inning. He needed only three pitches to fan the sixth batter he faced in the inning.
“I was trying to focus and get in the zone,” he said in an MiLB article, detailing how oblivious he was to his accomplishment. “That's pretty cool, honestly. It's definitely not something I'd ever say I expected to do.”
A five-strikeout inning has never happened in the majors. Multiple pitchers have struck out four in one inning, including earlier this season when Los Angeles Angels pitcher Luke Bard did it in the 14th inning against the New York Yankees.
The only other time it's happened in the minors was in 2014 by Andrew Kittredge, who was pitching for the Seattle Mariners’ Class A-Advanced team.
Ironically enough, Van Buren sort of shares the honor with another Lowcountry pitcher, James Reeves of Summerville. Reaves, pitching for the Charleston RiverDogs in 2016, combined with another pitcher to strike out five batters in one inning.
Unnecessary or Extra Credit?
Needless to say, sports pundits had some fun with this story. ESPN debaters Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon spent a minute talking about Van Buren on their popular show, Pardon the Interruption.
During a fill-in-the-blank segment, they were asked what kind of feat this was. Kornheiser went with “unnecessary,” blaming most of it on the catcher. Meanwhile, Wilbon said it was “extra credit” while giving the Charleston native props for his name.
“Malcolm Van Buren? That name is downright presidential,” Wilbon said.
Hopefully this outing is a sign of things to come. Van Buren has seen limited playing time in the pros, appearing in only 31 games. He’s 1-4 with a 5.76 ERA.