Bryan Evans was searching for an old standby through his first few starts of the season. On Saturday night, he rediscovered it.
The Marlins prospect utilized his signature changeup to work 6 1/3 dominant innings, allowing one hit and striking out six, as Triple-A New Orleans blanked Colorado Springs, 3-0, at Zephyr Field.
"I finally found my changeup a little bit," said Evans, who issued three walks. "I was just trying to hit my spots, not trying to overthrow it. That's probably my best pitch and I hadn't really had a feel for it for a couple starts. It's getting there. It's a work-in-progress, but it's getting there."
Angelys Nina singled with two outs in the second inning, but that turned out to be Colorado Springs' only hit off the Zephyrs starter. Evans (2-1) mowed down the Sky Sox in order in the third, offset two walks with two strikeouts to escape a jam in the fourth and faced the minimum in the fifth and sixth.
Following a leadoff walk to Ben Paulsen in the seventh, Evans retired Rockies No. 6 prospect Kyle Parker before departing. The 27-year-old right-hander's strong outing came on the heels of a seven-inning, one-hit performance by teammate Brian Flynn in Friday's series finale win at Iowa.
"Just like hitting, pitching's contagious, too," Evans said. "We all try to compete with each other and try to one-up each other and just pitch for the team."
"Tonight, Bryan just carried it on," Zephyrs pitching coach Charlie Corbell said. "He was just able to find the zone early, force them to swing. He mixed and matched real well, went back and forth and just kept them off-balance and moved the game along real quickly.
As for Evans' signature pitch, Corbell said, "He finally found a release for his change. It's not a conventional screwball with the big backwards break, but it's like a tight little backup slider that he can use. He was ahead of a lot of guys -- 13 out of 23 hitters. He forced contact and was able to entice them to swing at his pitch."
Evans pitched with a lead almost all night after Brian Bogusevic tripled with one out in the bottom of the first and scored one batter later on a sacrifice fly by Marlins No. 3 prospect Jake Marisnick. In the third, Evans helped himself with a leadoff single and scored on Josh Rodriguez's fourth homer of the season.
In his fourth start of the year and second against a Colorado Springs team that roughed him up for six runs on 11 hits over 4 1/3 innings on April 4, Evans looked like a pitcher who had found his early-season groove.
"In the early part of the season, these guys are getting built up," Corbell noted. "They're getting their feet on the ground. There's a reason they talk about guys being in midseason form. It's not as easy to go through Spring Training and be hitting on all cylinders when you get out of there. It takes two or three starts to get your feet on the ground, and I felt Bryan did a real good job of pacing the game.
"We build them into it. A lot of these guys were in big league camp, trying to make the big league club and not getting stretched out to try and fill some different roles. Basically, you try to build their repertoire back to what the consistency's supposed to be."
In the seventh, Evans handed the ball to former Sky Sox reliever Chaz Roe, who got the inning's final two outs. Chris Hatcher allowed a hit and struck out three in two scoreless frames to pick up his third save of the season.
Sky Sox starter Yohan Flande (0-3) remained winless after giving up three runs on six hits over six innings. He struck out three without issuing a walk.