After giving up nine unanswered runs to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes during a 10-7 loss Friday night, the Tri-City Dust Devils pitching staff was looking for a bounceback game.
For starters, how about allowing fewer than 17 hits.
Well, how about zero?
Four Tri-City pitchers combined for the 38th no-hitter in Northwest League history during a 3-0 win over NWL-leading Salem-Keizer on Saturday at Gesa Stadium.
It was the second no-hitter in Dust Devils history. The first came on Aug. 8, 2001, a combined perfect game by Kip Bouknight and Pat Lynch in a 1-0 home win over Boise.
Sam Moll, Shane Broyles, Jared McCrummen and Trent Daniel locked down the best-hitting team in the league for nine innings, walking three batters without an error.
The best thing we did was turn the page. Sometimes youre worried about lag (after a loss), said Dust Devils manager Drew Saylor. Honestly, I didnt realize we had a no-hitter until the eighth inning. Theres nothing I would have done differently as a manager (if I had known).
Moll cruised through the first three innings, retiring the first nine batters in order. He walked the leadoff batter in the fourth but got good support from his defense, which didnt allow the runner past first base. Moll also walked the lead runner in the fifth but, after he struck out Shilo McCall, shortstop Patrick Valaika started a double play on Ty Ross ground ball to end the inning.
But as the game wore on and the possibility of a no-hitter loomed, the Tri-City players stuck to the code of not talking about a no-hitter while it is in progress.
No one mentioned it. For the last inning in the dugout, I didnt even watch it, said Moll (2-1), a third-round draft pick out of Memphis University who picked up his second professional victory. In the big scheme of things, it doesnt really matter. A one-hitter would have been nice, too.
Marcos Derkes was overshadowed on the big pitching night, but his offensive contributions set the stage for the big win. He hit an RBI single to drive in Patrick Valaika to bring in the first run in the bottom of the second. Volcanoes left fielder Shilo McCall overran the ball on the play, allowing a second run to score to put Tri-City up 2-0.
Derkes drove in the Dust Devils final run with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh.
Second baseman Cesar Galvez made a big defensive play to lead off the top of the third. He ranged far to his left on Ross ground ball and completed a 180-degree spin to make the throw to first baseman Patrick Hutcheson.
Shane Broyles came in to relieve Moll. The Burleson, Texas, native looked like he might get into trouble, walking Randy Ortiz and hitting John Polonius with one out in the top of the sixth. But he settled in to close out the inning and retired the side in order in the seventh.
Next was Jerad McCrummen a Texas Tech product, like Broyles who went three-up, three down in the eighth to set up the dramatic finish for Tri-City closer Trent Daniel, who came into the game tied for the NWL lead with six saves.
The first thing Daniel did was listen to his catcher, Chris ODowd, who offered a quick word of support and not a mention of the potential no-hitter.
Its great having Chris out there. Hes like a coach on the field, Saylor said.
Daniel got Polonius to line out to Mike Tauchman in left field for out No. 1, then walked Brandon Bednar. But then Daniel locked in on the final two hitters, Jeremy Sy and Brian Ragira. He struck out Sy on a 3-2 count and then got Ragira to swing at an 0-2 slider in the dirt.
ODowd grabbed the ball out of the dirt and tagge Ragira to end the game, as his teammates sprinted in to celebrate the historic victory.
I wanted (all four pitchers) to stay in the moment pitch-to-pitch, ODowd said. In the ninth inning, I was so nervous. It was such a feeling of relief to get the last out.
Chris father, Colorado Rockies general manager Dan ODowd, was in the crowd watching the action. He has been a part of every major Rockies victory since 1999, but he enjoyed this one just the same.
Its pretty neat for the organization, Dan said. Everything is about the kids. I look at all these kids as they are my own.
Tri-City teams have recorded five other no-hitters before the Dust Devils landed in town in 2001. Joseph Drotar threw one for the Tri-City Braves in 1958. In 1968, Richard Dorsch tossed one for the Tri-City Atoms.
Three years later, it was John Franklin for the Tri-City Padres.Finally, in 1983, the Tri-City Triplets had two combined no-hitters. James Allison and Dan Lindquist combined for one on June 28. Allison and Nick Esposito put one together on July 8.