It's been a season of firsts for Brad Allen.
The 24-year-old made his Minor League debut in May and tossed a seven-inning shutout in just his fourth start. He pitched South Bend's second no-hitter of the season on Aug. 10 and fanned 10 batters his last time out.
Allen earned his first professional promotion this week and, on Saturday, earned the win in his California League debut.
The D-backs prospect allowed two hits and struck out eight batters over six innings, pitching Class A Advanced Visalia to a 2-0 victory over Stockton at Banner Island Ballpark
"Trust me, it's been crazy sometimes," said Allen, who signed with the D-backs out of an independent league last December. "I woke up this morning and said, 'Wow, I'm in California. How did I get all the way over here?'
"But it's been fun and I've learned a lot and met a lot of great people in the organization. Every step I take, I hope it keeps going."
The Illinois native allowed a one-out infield single to Antonio Lamas in the first inning and a two-out double to Myrio Richard in the fourth. Just one baserunner reached third against Allen (1-0), who retired the final seven batters he faced.
Rashun Dixon drew a leadoff walk in the third and stole second, Dusty Robinson reached on an error and A's top prospect Addison Russell walked to load the bases. But Allen struck out the next two batters and retired Tony Thompson on a fly ball to protect a 1-0 lead.
"I had the bases loaded and the guy at bat had a 3-0 count. I was one pitch away from walking in a run," he said. "I took a deep breath and said get back to what has made me successful. I attacked the zone and good things happened. That was the turning point in the outing."
In 20 games -- including 18 starts -- with South Bend, Allen went 7-6 with a 4.37 ERA and 96 strikeouts over 113 1/3 innings. Despite the no-hitter earlier this month, the Arkansas State product had no idea a promotion was in the cards.
"Two days ago, I was in Fort Wayne. We just finished up there and I was getting dressed and my manager [Mark Haley] told me I was going to Visalia," Allen said.
He took a 10 a.m. flight to Chicago on Friday, then jumped on a connecting flight to Phoenix. He took a third plane to Sacramento and a bus that arrived in Visalia at around 7 p.m. local time.
"It was a long day, to say the least. I slept pretty hard last night," Allen said. "The competitive side of me says I would [get the chance], but you never think you will get the chance coming out of independent baseball. Just getting the chance to prove yourself and show what you can do.
"The Major Leagues are why I wake up every day and show up at the park. The hard work I do every day in the offseason, the Majors are always my end goal. Will I get that chance? I don't know. But hopefully, if I perform well, I will get my chance."
Seth Simmons allowed a hit and a walk over two innings and Kaleb Fleck struck out one in a 1-2-3 ninth for his ninth save.
Tom Belza led off the second with his 10th homer to provide the only offense Allen needed. Ronnie Freeman provided insurance with a two-out RBI double in the ninth.