After suffering a bloody nose during warmups, the Cardinals prospect took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Tuesday night as the Palm Beach shut down the Brevard County Manatees, 3-1.
"I got the bloody nose and wasn't throwing strikes in my bullpen session [before the game], so I'm pretty happy with how things turned out," said Kelly, who combined with relievers Tyler Lyons and Brett Zawacki on a two-hitter.
Kelly, a third-round pick in the 2009 Draft, worked in and out of trouble much of the evening. He hit a batter in the first inning, worked around a two-out error by shortstop Domnit Bolivar in the third and dug himself a big hole in the fourth by walking the first three batters.
"I had a little trouble with my command, hit a guy in the first, then walking those three batters, but I was able to get some ground-ball outs with my two-seam fastball," said Kelly, who recorded 15 groundouts against three fly balls.
The Cal-Riverside product induced a run-scoring double play from Shea Vucinich and a groundout from Mike Brownstein to limit the damage.
Kelly (2-2) issued a two-out walk in the sixth but was otherwise untouched until Scooter Gennett lined a changeup to center field for a one-out single in the eighth.
"I'd gotten pretty lucky earlier in the game," Kelly said. "I didn't feel like I had my best stuff."
The hit ended Kelly's night after a career-best 7 1/3 innings. He was charged with one run while walking four and striking out four.
The 22-year-old right-hander had never taken a no-hitter that deep at any level of his baseball career.
"Toward the later innings, the only guy who would talk to me was our strength and conditioning coach -- he's not real baseball-savvy, he's more of a basketball guy," Kelly said. "He'd come over between innings and ask how I was doing and I'd say, 'Pretty good.'"
Lyons allowed a single to the first batter he faced but got Kentrail Davis to pop out. Zawacki followed with 1 1/3 perfect innings to notch his second save.
The Cardinals got on the board with two runs in a strange third inning. After two quick outs, Brevard County starter Hiram Burgos drilled D'Marcus Ingram. Both players, along with Manatees pitching coach Fred Dabney, were tossed by plate umpire Jonathan Bailey.
Kelly wasn't sure if the beaning was a response to Monday night's game, in which two Cardinals and one Manatee were plunked, or retaliation for Kelly having hit Davis in the opening inning.
"I definitely wasn't trying to hit their guy, I was just pitching inside," he said. "[Ingram and Burgos] started talking at each other, though, and then the umpire threw everyone out."
After Jarred Bogany ran for Ingram, reliever Mark Willinsky gave up a walk, a run-scoring single to Rainel Rosario and an RBI double to Kyle Conley, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
Conley finished 3-for-4.
The Cardinals tacked on an insurance run in the ninth on a throwing error by first baseman Brock Kjeldgaard.
Burgos fell to 1-3 after allowing a run on one hit in an abbreviated 2 2/3-inning outing. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.
The victory was the third in a row for Palm Beach, while the Manatees suffered their seventh straight loss.