Patrick Conroy was pitching for the road team Saturday night, but something in the air had him feeling right at home.
The Royals prospect took a perfect game into the seventh inning before settling for his third straight win as Rookie-level Idaho Falls coasted to a 12-3 victory at Grand Junction.
Conroy ended up allowing three runs on three hits and struck out eight over six-plus frames, improving to 5-0 with a Pioneer League-leading 2.52 ERA. The weather gets an assist for his performance against the first-half South Division champions.
"I'm from Northern California, where it's overcast and cold and kind of windy," he said. "That's how it was here today, and my pitches felt great coming out of my hand in the bullpen."
That good feeling carried over into his first outing against the Rockies, even though the Chukars had played three series against them.
"I was able to watch these guys in, I think, probably nine games before I got to face them," Conroy said. "It was finally go-time, so I knew what I needed to do against them. Luckily, I kept the ball down, and [catcher] Zane Evans did a great job calling the game. The run support definitely helps, too."
Idaho Falls scored six times in the second inning and added three runs in the third. The lead took pressure off the 2012 32nd-round pick.
"Absolutely. It changes how you pitch guys," he said. "When we went up early, I was able to relax a little bit more."
Once Conroy had retired the first 12 or 15 hitters in order, his teammates went into no-hitter mode.
"I was letting one guy use my jacket between innings and I noticed he stopped asking for it after little while," the Marin Community College product said. "I would walk in [to the dugout] and get high-fives, but then I looked around and there was five feet of space between me and anybody else."
Conroy knew what was happening, but he was trying not to let it be a big deal, he said.
"It was important for me to stay focused and bear down."
Rockies leadoff man Dom Nunez ended the perfect game, lining a single into right field to start the seventh.
"It was the top of the order coming around again. It got to a 2-2 count and he was fighting off some tough pitches," Conroy said. "I knew I wanted to go to my curveball -- I throw two: a spoke-knuckle curve and a conventional one. The conventional one showed up today after being off-and-on the last couple starts, so I decided to throw that. It wasn't the best location. It ended up knee-high and sort of on the middle of the plate, and he put a good swing on it."
The 21-year-old left-hander walked the next hitter and allowed back-to-back singles to Correlle Prime and Rockies No. 19 prospect Ryan McMahon. With two runs across, Conroy handed the ball to Jon Fitzsimmons, who gave up a sacrifice fly to Miguel Dilone.
"I think going into the stretch messed with me a little bit," Conroy said. "Looking back, I should have pitched more out of the stretch, just to be ready for when that point came in the game."
Royals No. 13 prospect Elier Hernandez tripled, singled twice and drove in three runs for the Chukars. Hunter Dozier, ranked six spots ahead of Hernandez, doubled and singled, while Daniel Rockett had four RBIs and Frank Schwindel collected four hits.