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Illinois pitcher drills bird like Randy Johnson, bird somehow survives and flies away

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Remember when Randy Johnson practically obliterated a dove with a pitch in a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants? Well, a high school pitcher took a page out of the same book in a game on Wednesday evening, striking an unspecified bird with a pitch on its way to the strike zone … only for the bird to eventually dust itself off and fly off over the center-field fence as if nothing much happened.

The incident occurred in Illinois, where Springfield (Ill.) Sacred Heart-Griffin High School pitcher Ryne Elvers drilled a passing bird while delivering a pitch against Springfield (Ill.) Southeast High at Lanphier Park in a "City Series" game. As reported by the Springfield State Journal-Register and Sports Radio 1450 -- and brought to Prep Rally's attention by the good folks at Off the Bench -- the Big Unit-esque pitch came in the fifth inning on an 0-1 count from Elvers to Southeast batter Robbie Cooper, who watched in amazement as the bird went down.

Still, the most incredible part of the man vs. nature interaction may have been the resilience of the bird itself. Unlike the dove drilled by Johnson's heater -- which was difficult to identify because it was strewn so far across the diamond -- the bird struck by Elvers "managed to fly off, minus some feathers," according to the Journal-Register.

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As for Elvers, he brushed off the incident with a laugh shared with his catcher, Mitch Trees, after the pitch during a meeting on the mound (you can see a photo of that interaction at the Journal-Register). Then he settled back down and got back to the work of finishing off Southeast. In 5 1/3 innings, Elvers allowed just three hits and one run on 69 pitches.

"I felt OK," Elvers told the Journal-Register of his outing. "I didn't have my best stuff, and they're a good hitting team. Every ground ball . . . the defense did the job. Without those double plays they would have scored two or three more runs."

And who was probably most happy that Elvers was only pitching "OK" as opposed to lights out? Almost certainly the bird itself. Based on past birds vs. fastball outings, if Elvers had been on top of his game, the bird might not still be flying around somewhere in Illinois today.

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