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Hochevar wins clincher in debut09/09/2006 3:17 AM ET
By Eric Justic / Special to MLB.com
Luke Hochevar took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and won his Double-A debut Friday as the Wichita Wranglers edged the Tulsa Drillers, 7-6, to take their Texas League first-round series.
Hochevar (1-0), who was promoted from Class A Burlington on Saturday, gave up two runs on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander yielded just a walk to Joseph Koshansky in the first before running into trouble in the sixth.
"I feel like I executed pitches better than at any time in the Minors," Hochevar said. "Early on, I had very good command. Velocity-wise, I was amped, so the ball was coming out a little better."
It was a night of firsts as the Wranglers captured the best-of-5 series in four games to advance to the Finals against Corpus Christi. Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick in June's draft, picked up his first Minor League win and celebrated for the first time with his new teammates at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
"It was my first time getting sprayed down with champagne," Hochevar said. "That stuff gets in your eyes a little bit, but it was awesome to celebrate like that.
"It's kind of different, because I hadn't been with the club," said Hochevar. "I just came in a week ago and I'm pitching in a game of this magnitude."
Hochevar was 0-1 with a 1.17 ERA in four Midwest League starts.
Alex Gordon crushed two solo homers as the Wranglers raced to a 7-0 lead through five frames. But the Drillers stormed back with six unanswered runs in the late innings.
With Tulsa trailing in the ninth, 7-6, Matthew Miller led off with a single against reliever Devon Lowery and advanced on Alvin Colina's sacrifice.
After Jordan Czarniecki ran for Miller and pinch-hitter Tino Sanchez struck out, Jonathan Herrera -- who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored -- singled to left field. Chris Lubanski fired a one-hop strike to catcher Adam Donachie to nab Czarniecki at the plate.
"I fielded the ball cleanly," Lubanski told KGSO Radio. "I didn't want to overrun it and just made a good throw."
"That game was intense," added Billy Butler, who homered in the fifth for Wichita. "You can't beat how this game ended."
Douglas Bernier's one-out triple in the sixth broke up the no-hit bid. He came home on Herrera's infield single, forcing Hochevar's exit.
"I was lucky enough to be able to watch the hitters for four games before I had a start against them to find some tendencies," said Hochevar. "But all that was going through my head was executing pitches ... In a game like this, you are going to be geeked up a little more just because of the weight of it. I wasn't nervous, more amped than anything. I was ready to get after it and attack hitters."
Gordon gave Hochevar a 1-0 lead in the opening frame with a solo shot to center field. His blast in the fourth, which was estimated at 430 feet, increased the lead to 5-0.
Angel Sanchez had a two-run single and Donnie Murphy and Mitch Maier had RBI singles for Wichita.
The Drillers made it 7-6 with three runs in the seventh off relievers Neal Musser and Gabe DeHoyos. Musser left after walking the first two batters. With one out, Herrera cracked a triple to right and Seth Smith lofted a sacrifice fly.
DeHoyos followed with a perfect eighth before Lowery picked up his third save of the series.
Tulsa starter Enmanuel Ulloa (0-1) surrendered seven runs on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts in four-plus innings.
The Wranglers won league titles in 1992 and 1999, while Corpus Christi will play for its first crown after sweeping defending champ Midland in the opening round.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.