If you were at the Lynchburg Hillcats game this past Thursday against the Wilmington Blue Rocks in Delaware you witnessed history. If you went again on Friday the Hillcats doubled your pleasure. On both nights the Hillcats threw no-hitters.
Lucas Sims and Alex Wilson combined to throw the first one. Cody Scarpetta and Benino Pruneda combined the next night.
Those four are now a part of baseball history. Back to back nine-inning no-hitters had not been accomplished since August 5th and 6th, 1972. According to Delaware Online, that’s when Denis McSween and Robert Babcock pitched no-hitters for Quebec against Pawtucket in the Eastern League. The last time it happened in the Carolina League was May 15, 1966, when Rocky Mount's Dick Drago and Darrell Clark pitched no-hitters against Greensboro in both games of a doubleheader.
In the history of minor league baseball, according to one source it has happened a total of nine times. Another source indicates it’s happened 11 times.
"Anybody can get lucky and get one no-hitter but for it to happen two times in a row, that last out, I'll remember that for the rest of my life," Tyler Tewell said. He caught both no-hitters.
Sims said, "It's something really special, definitely the highlight of my professional career."
Scarpetta said, "No matter what level it is you're going to be able to take that for the rest of your life and be able to tell family and kids - I was a part of a no-hitter."
During a game in which a team has been held hitless, the golden rule is: Don't talk about the no-hitter.
"I don't know where that rule came from but you don't to be the guys that breaks it," pitching coach Derrick Lewis explained.
No one did and it worked. If you’re wondering does the pitching coach get a raise after his pitchers throw back to back no-hitters?
Lewis answered, "Nah, nah, nah, I wish but it's all good."
"The first night everyone was like, we threw a no-hitter. At the same time it wasn't just one pitcher. It was two so it didn't seem as cool of a moment but the next day for it to happen two nights in a row it just kind of built up and it was a little more amped up that night," Tewell said.
Most players and coaches agree, you don't start thinking about a possible no-hitter until the 6th, maybe the 7th inning, especially during a game in which Sims struggled early on. “But he kept his composure and didn't really get out of focus even though he was struggling to throw some strikes here and there but he did a good job of getting back in a zone and he stayed with it," Tewell said.
"I feel like everyone kind of didn't really realize what was going on. It wasn't until after in the clubhouse when everyone was really fired up and then after the second one happened everyone just went ballistic," Sims said.
That’s because Scarpetta’s outing was more dominant. He struck out seven and walked only one in his seven innings.
"It was definitely fun to see knowing that you might not ever see it again," Lewis said.
In case you’re wondering why would the manager take out a pitcher that’s throwing a no-hitter the answer is because in the minor leagues pitchers have rather strict pitch counts. The Braves (the Hillcats MLB affiliate) employ a pitch count of right around 100 pitches at this point in the season.