Ben Lively had to wait a while for his first win, but he nearly got it in historic fashion Thursday.
Cincinnati's No. 6 prospect took a no-hitter into the eighth inning as Double-A Pensacola defeated Tennessee, 6-4.
Lively picked up the first out of the eighth inning before Christian Villanueva singled into left field on a 3-2 pitch to end bid. The 22-year-old right-hander then surrendered a single to Jonathan Mota before exiting the game.
"I've been working on stuff all week to get back to where I was and tonight it just clicked," Lively said. "I was finally locating my fastball wherever I wanted to. I was getting ahead, being efficient and letting them get themselves out most of the game and just kept rolling through seven innings."
The Florida native was tagged with two runs after he left, notching six strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings to earn his first Southern League victory in eight outings for the Blue Wahoos. Lively expressed relief with getting that elusive win out of the way.
"I'm more in a state of 'finally'," he said. "I just had a lot of wins earlier in the year and I've been struggling since I got here. Pretty pumped to get it out of the way, and hopefully, I can settle down and keep piling them up by the end of the year."
Lively still entered the contest with solid numbers, posting a 3.68 ERA while limiting Southern League hitters to a .214 batting average. The University of Central Florida product wasn't frustrated, understanding that baseball can be a fickle game sometimes.
"That's baseball, it can go either way," he said. "I can be 5-0 right now with a super-duper ERA, but that's just the way it goes."
After going 10-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 13 California League starts for Class A Advanced Bakersfield, Lively has found that the biggest adjustment for him has been the patience of opposing hitters. In 79 innings for the Blaze, the 6-foot-4 hurler walked 16 batters while in 44 innings with the Blue Wahoos he's issued passes to 29.
"I just can't be throwing balls way outside the zone like I was earlier in the year and they were chasing it." he said. "I have to be more efficient because I noticed they've been laying off pitches when you fall behind, and that's when you start working deep counts. Tonight I was the opposite of that, I was getting ahead and putting them away quick."
Catcher Rossmel Perez provided much of the offense for Pensacola, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Juan Duran added a solo homer.
Dustin Geiger doubled home a pair of runs and Addison Russell, the Cubs' No. 3 prospect, went 0-for-4 to end his seven-game hitting streak.