Lucas Sims reconnected with an old friend Thursday night, and it helped him start the Carolina League's first no-hitter of 2014.
"I've been struggling with my curveball quite a bit, and right about the fifth inning, I got a feel for it back," the Braves' top prospect said. "It felt really good to kind of be reunited. I hadn't seen it in a while and was glad it came back and hung out."
Sims (6-5) threw seven hitless innings, giving up an unearned run and striking out six while walking four in Class A Advanced Lynchburg's 5-1 victory over Wilmington. Alex Wilson struck out three and walked two over the final two frames.
"It was real special. You know, I've been scuffling a little bit this season, trying to figure some mechanical things out," said the 20-year-old righty. "I've been learning the whole way through, but it was really special tonight. Everything clicked. It was fun, really fun."
Sims struggled with his command, and not just of his breaking ball, in the early going Thursday. He worked around a hit batsman, Jack Lopez, to start the third and walked No. 7 Royals prospect Bubba Starling and Michael Antonio in the bottom of the fourth. He fanned Cody Stubbs to end the inning.
"I didn't feel that great in my [pregame] bullpen [session]," he said. "I competed for a little bit, and I really didn't have a good changeup tonight. For the first couple innings, I might have [just barely] gotten by, but they made a couple plays behind me."
Control was an issue again in the fifth as Sims walked Lopez with one out. Lopez moved to second on Hillcats catcher Tyler Tewell's passed ball and to third on a fielding error by shortstop Daniel Castro. Sims induced a comebacker from Terrance Gore and fired to second for one out, but Gore was safe at first and Lopez scored.
Considering that the play broke up a shutout, Sims regretted going for two "pretty bad."
"That was a bad mental mistake. With that situation, with Gore running, he's not much of a double-play candidate. I just fielded the ball and my natural instinct was to go to second," he said.
"I heard somebody say, 'four, four, four,' but I didn't turn. I guess I gripped the ball a little tighter and gave a low throw to second. Castro made a great play to handle it and make it close at first, but I should have gone home. As soon as I let go of the ball, I regretted it."
Sims retired the next five in a row, surrendered a one-out walk to Cam Gallagher in the seventh and struck out the final two batters he faced. He threw 101 pitches -- 59 for strikes -- and lowered his ERA to 4.71.
"The run bothers me because it's completely on me, a mental lapse on my part, but it doesn't change the fact [of the no-hitter]," he said. "I'm just excited it got done. I'll take it any way I can get it, I guess."
Wilson worked around two walks in the eighth, but turned in a 1-2-3 ninth. Stubbs led off that frame by popping out to shallow center field, but Lynchburg's Kyle Wren got to it in time.
"I held my breath for a little bit. It broke the bat, and it didn't come off it very hard. It just held long enough for Wren to get to it," said Sims, who ranks as baseball's No. 49 prospect overall. "I was really glad Wilson was able to get it done."