An unexpected callup to Triple-A Buffalo earlier this month gave Josh Tomlin some much-needed confidence. He isn't letting it go to waste.
Tomlin tossed a six-inning one-hitter for his first career complete game Saturday as the Kinston Indians blanked the Frederick Keys, 3-0, in a rain-shortened game at Harry Grove Stadium.
After beginning the season in the Indians' bullpen, Tomlin (6-3) returned to his natural role as a starter on May 12. Although he failed to get a win in his first three outings after moving into the rotation, the Tyler, Texas, native made the most of his surprising call to make a start for the Bisons on June 3.
Tomlin allowed three runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts over seven innings that night as Buffalo edged the Rochester Red Wings, 4-3.
"They needed a guy up at Triple-A and I got the call," Tomlin recalled. "They called me two days before, and it was a pretty good feeling. It does a lot for your confidence, even if it was for one day. Fortunately, it worked out to where I got a win."
He struggled upon his return to Kinston, going 0-2 while surrendering 12 earned runs on 21 hits over 17 2/3 frames in his next three starts. On Saturday night, he snapped back to the form that made him one of the top pitchers in the New York-Penn and South Atlantic leagues over the previous two years.
Tomlin set down the first six batters before yielding a leadoff single to Paul Winterling in the third. He faced the minimum the rest of the way, striking out five without issuing a walk before waiting 97 minutes for the game to be called in the middle of the seventh.
"I was wondering whether or not we were going to go back out there," said Tomlin, who went 19-6 with a 2.89 ERA in 47 appearances, including 35 starts, over his first two pro seasons.
"It was after the fact that I realized I had pitched a one-hitter. I was looking forward to going back out there, but I think after the rain delay lasted an hour or so, I didn't think I was going to go back out."
After being locked in a duel with Keys starter Brandon Erbe (6-7) for four innings, the former 19th-round pick got the offensive support he needed in the fifth. Carlos Rivero and Niuman Romero began the decisive rally with back-to-back singles before pulling off a double steal.
Both scored without the benefit of a hit as Rivero raced home when Frederick third baseman Billy Rowell booted Alex Castillo's grounder and Romero followed suit via a passed ball.
John Drennen capped the three-run inning with an RBI double as Kinston (7-2) pulled away for its fourth win in five games.
"My last couple of outings before this one were not too great, but tonight it all worked out," Tomlin said.
Erbe was charged with three unearned runs on four hits with five strikeouts over six frames for Frederick (3-6), which dropped its second straight.
John Torenli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.