By the middle of the third inning on Friday night, Parker Bridwell already had eight strikeouts, including seven in a row.
Then, just as he was preparing to come back out for the fourth, the lights went out. Literally. Darkness overtook the outfield at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, threatening to bring an abrupt end to Bridwell's strong start.
Power was restored to the bank of lights along the third-base line 25 minutes later, but Bridwell didn't miss a beat. In fact, he shone brighter than he has all season.
The Orioles' No. 20 prospect struck out a career-high 14 batters over eight two-hit innings as Class A Delmarva blanked visiting Lakewood, 2-0.
"We were hitting and I was sitting on the bench, where I always sit between innings, when it got a little darker and everybody knew the lights were going out," said Bridwell.
"I know how long it takes to get the lights back on, so I just stayed focused and kept with my plan. When the lights came back on, I went to the bullpen and threw [six] pitches. I really didn't have any time frame, I was just waiting for information to see how long it would take. The ground crew said five minutes once the lights came back on."
The 22-year-old right-hander responded by setting down the next seven batters he faced, allowing just one baserunner over the next five innings. Angelo More beat out an infield single with one out in the sixth, but Shorebirds catcher Wynston Sawyer threw him out trying to steal second base, meaning Bridwell faced one over the minimum.
The eight innings tied a career high, while the 14 strikeouts topped his previous best of 10, achieved over eight innings in a win over Hickory on June 16. It was the most by a Shorebirds pitcher since Erik Bedard fanned 14 on May 26, 2000 and matched the highest total recorded against Lakewood, which struck out 14 times against Kannapolis' Dexter Carter on July 9, 2009.
"It's up there with the best," said Bridwell, throws a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup out of a high three-quarter arm slot. "I had an outing in Hickory earlier in the year that was pretty similar, and everything was on tonight. When they put the ball in play, my defense made all the plays behind me.
"The most pleasing thing tonight was zero walks. I couldn't care less about how many strikeouts I have or how many hits I give up, but zero walks is huge for me. I mean, it wasn't perfect, but it was close to perfect, command-wise and pitch-wise."
Bridwell, a 2010 ninth-round Draft pick, improved to 8-9 and lowered his ERA almost half a run to 4.87. It was his first win since July 26 and just his second in nearly five weeks.
"Just feel for all of my pitches," he said of the difference in fortunes on the mound. "The only thing that has been inconsistent is my off-speed stuff and throwing it for strikes in any count. If I can keep doing that, hopefully I'll have more outings like this that comes with being consistent with my arm slot and delivery."
Mychal Givens came on in the ninth and struck out two in a perfect inning for his third save.
The Shorebirds scored the only run Bridwell needed in the bottom of the first as Gregory Lorenzo hit a leadoff double and raced home on a base hit by Anthony Caronia. Lorenzo provided a little insurance with an RBI double in the fifth.