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Nothing means something to Ungs11/09/2005 11:49 PM ET
By Tim Leonard / MLB.com
What he had done didn't truly hit Nic Ungs until six days later.
Of course, the Carolina Mudcats right-hander knew he had thrown a no-hitter against the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx that July 29 night -- the scoreboard and his teammates mobbing him on the mound when it was over were confirmation of the obvious. But it took giving up a hit in Ungs' next start against the Chattanooga Lookouts to fully comprehend what he accomplished.
"It took until my next outing to realize the magnitude of it," said Ungs, who had never before thrown a no-hitter at any level. "My next outing, I gave up four or five hits early. That's when it hit me, in my next start when I did give up hits. I guess that doesn't happen every day."
That outing earned Ungs this season's MiLB.com award for Double-A Best Single-Game Performance.
By the ninth inning, Ungs was running on adrenaline. He was very much aware of the fact that he hadn't allowed a hit to the dangerous Diamond Jaxx lineup, but he was just as aware of how quickly a 2-0 lead could disappear with a man on base.
After all, Dwaine Bacon had sent a scorching line drive to left field for the second out of the ninth inning, leaving Ungs to face Luis Montanez. Ungs remembered getting a first-pitch strike before Montanez took ball one. Ungs then threw consecutive pitches just off the plate and Montanez swung through both for a game-ending strikeout.
"My catcher [Jason Hill] came out and I gave him a hug. The next thing I know, the whole team was around me. It was a nice individual moment, but also a big win for us," Ungs said. "It was a relief we got the win, but also a moment I'll never forget."
Ungs felt just ordinary while he was warming up. His fastball didn't have any kind of unusual pop and his curveball wasn't showing a nastier break. He got loose just like any other game. Then he went out and pitched nine innings, the only time he went past the seventh all season.
But when Ungs went to the mound at Pringles Park, the rare forces that come together for a pitcher to become unhittable for one night were there waiting for him. Ungs had a season-high seven strikeouts that day against one of the best lineups in the Southern League. He also had a season-high five walks and made an error.
. All four of Ungs' pitches -- fastball, cutter, changeup and curve -- were working that night. Though he often struggles to control the curve and didn't use it early, Ungs dropped it in several for first-pitch strikes in the later innings. He also remembers catching the speedy Bacon on a pickoff in the seventh after a leadoff walk.
"Something was going on," Ungs said. "I'm not sure what it was, but luck was on my side that night."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.