The evidence of what Parker Bridwell and his Frederick teammates nearly accomplished Tuesday night is in the left-field wall at Harry Grove Stadium. There, a crack in the plywood fence the size of Michael Burgess tells the story.
That tale is one of a pitcher and his defense flirting with history but narrowly missing out.
On Tuesday night, Bridwell -- for the second time in the past year -- took a no-hitter into the ninth inning, this time backed by some highlight-reel defensive plays. Potomac scratched a hit off him in the final frame, but that was all it got as Class A Advanced Frederick recorded a 7-0 Carolina League whitewash.
The Orioles' No. 17 prospect threw 8 1/3 no-hit frames before allowing a single to Potomac leadoff man Tony Renda, who lined a 3-1 fastball back up the middle.
Bridwell (1-5) threw 98 pitches, allowing one walk in the top of the sixth and another with one out in the ninth.
"It was so fun," he said. "That doesn't happen much. When it does, it's a great feeling. Obviously, it wasn't just me. Most of the plays that were made behind me were not routine. My defense behind me was unbelievable."
The best example of that defense with two outs in the eighth, when Potomac designated hitter Mike McQuillan drove a long fly ball to left. Burgess sprinted back and made a leaping catch as he crashed into the wall, cracking the plywood fence.
"That was crazy," Bridwell said. "That shows you how fast he was running. He hit the wall and went halfway through it."
Burgess' stellar defensive play followed another by right fielder Lucas Herbst with two outs in the seventh. Herbst made a sliding grab to preserve the no-hitter, robbing Shawn Pleffner of a base knock.
The near-no-hitter was almost identical to a start Bridwell made with Class A Delmarva last June 16. In that outing -- a 4-2 win over Hickory -- the 22-year-old right-hander held one of the South Atlantic League's best offenses hitless before shortstop Luis Marte grounded a leadoff single up the middle in the ninth.
"It was right up the middle and everything, just like déjà vu," Bridwell said. "After I came into the dugout after being taken out [Tuesday], I was thinking about it and remembered that. It was pretty weird."
For Bridwell, the outing was a dramatic turnaround from the results he'd posted in his first seven starts. The 2010 ninth-round pick entered Tuesday with a 6.94 ERA, walking 20 batters and striking out 30 over 35 innings. He's allowed three homers on the year, including two to Winston-Salem in his last outing.
Bridwell said the big difference was in his control, as he was better able to drive his fastball and changeup into the lower half of the strike zone against Potomac.
"It was just kind of a focus thing. Last outing, it wasn't a bad outing, but the pitches I left up did get hit hard. I didn't want that to happen again," he said. "I just wanted to keep the ball down and most of my pitches were."
Bridwell was vying for the Keys' first no-hitter since Nathan Moreau beat Salem, 7-0, on June 30, 2010.