After five-and-a-half Minor League seasons, Ethan Hollingsworth hadn't experienced a no-hitter. Instead of waiting around, he got one started himself Thursday night.
Hollingsworth, Jason Townsend, Jhonathan Ramos and Ryan Beckman combined to no-hit New Hampshire in Double-A Altoona's 5-0 victory at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
"It's a great feeling. This is my sixth season of Minor League ball and I hadn't seen one yet. I was talking with somebody about that a week or so ago," Hollingsworth said.
The feat was the second in Altoona's team history. Adrian Burnside, Neal McDade and Chris Spurling combined to shut down Akron in the first one on April 23, 2002.
"I've never been a part of one, it's the first one I've ever seen in person," Townsend said. "It's a great experience and a good team win."
Hollingsworth is 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA and a .160 opponents' batting average in his last 45 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-2 righty had gone over six innings in each of his last five starts before exiting after four innings Thursday.
"I'm not really sure yet [why I came out after four], maybe a spot start is needed somewhere. I don't know much yet," he said.
The Curve allowed just two baserunners. Adam Loewen was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth inning and Brian Van Kirk walked to start the sixth. Despite the dominance on the mound, not everyone knew something special was unfolding.
"When several pitchers are part of it, you sort of lose sight of it," Hollingsworth said. "[Pitching coach] Stan Kyles didn't know it was going on until after the last out, and he was wondering what we were so excited."
"I wasn't aware of the no-hitter until the seventh inning after our second baseman [Jarek Cunningham] made a leaping catch in the sixth. Everyone was excited. I came in and checked the scoreboard and saw a zero," Townsend said. "I think it keeps you kind of calm. You pitch your game instead of trying to pitch to where they don't get a hit."
Townsend (2-3), who entered the game with an 8.91 ERA, allowed a walk in an otherwise blemish-free three innings to earn the win.
"This season's been real up and down with some stress of pretty rough outings," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "I was talking with [Kyles] and manager [Carlos Garcia] and went back to keeping it simple, using the fastball down in the zone, in and out. I quit trying to do too much with the ball."
Ramos and Beckman each delivered a perfect frame.
Pirates' No. 4 prospect Gregory Polanco fell a triple short of a cycle to raise his hitting line to .284/.380/.422 in 116 at-bats since being promoted from Class A Advanced Bradenton. The center fielder also has six steals after swiping 24 in the Florida State League.
"[Polanco's] the real deal, he tracked down a lot of balls for me today in the first four innings," Hollingsworth said. "He's got size, he's fast, has power, and today he was a triple away from the cycle. He puts some good swings on the ball."
Adalberto Santos drove in three and Cunningham added three hits and scored once.