Scott Copeland had one offer in the offseason, and it came from the Miami Marlins.
Now pitching just two hours from his home in Mississippi, the right-hander launched himself into the New Orleans Baby Cakes history books by holding the Iowa Cubs hitless through seven innings on Friday night. When Hunter Cervenka and Brandon Cunniff did the same in the eighth and ninth innings, the trio completed just the third no-hitter in New Orleans history, and the third no-hitter in Pacific Coast League history to consist of three pitchers.
"I just went out there and tried to pound the zone, have them make contact and put the ball in play," Copeland said. "I don't think they were ready for that because they put up 18 runs a couple of days ago."
Baseball players are notoriously superstitous, even more so when a no-hitter is on the line. Sticking to the tradition of not disturbing the starting pitcher, Copeland said his teammates allowed him to mostly keep to himself in the dugout, though he was not oblivious to what was happening.
"I kind of knew because every three innings, I had the pitcher coming up, so it was like 'All right, that was perfect,'" Copeland said. "I didn't really say anything, I just tried to stay aggressive and get ahead."
The Cubs' only threat for a hit against Copeland came from former New Orleans infielder Ozzie Martinez, whose sixth-inning fly ball took left fielder Destin Hood to the wall to make the catch.
"That wall was pretty tall so I thought it might hit off the wall, but I knew he didn't get it all."
Copeland is no stranger to chasing a no-hitter early in the season. In his 2015 debut with the Buffalo Bisons, he kept Rochester out of the hit column for 6 1/3 innings before allowing a single to Josmil Pinto.
Over parts of three seasons, Copeland made 33 starts with Buffalo, and made his Major League debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. He took a chance to pitch in Korea last year, but was ultimately released in July and re-signed with the Blue Jays.
"I enjoyed my time (in Korea), my wife and I had a blast," Copeland said. "But it's definitely a hitter's league. Small strike zones, small fields."
Copeland picked up right where he left off with the Bisons, turning in a 3.04 ERA in nine starts down the stretch. Upon entering free agency, it was the Marlins who came calling.
After a rocky season debut against Memphis, Copeland cruised through the Iowa lineup on Friday. Despite throwing just 63 pitches in seven innings, he was removed for a pinch hitter during the Baby Cakes' seven-run rally in the eighth to break the game open, then sat back and watched to see if his bullpen could finish the job.
Cervenka battled command issues to get through the eighth despite surrendering a run on two walks and two errors, but Cunniff quickly retired the side in order in the ninth to complete the gem.
"It was nerve wracking, but we pulled it off," Copeland said. "I've never done it before, so I will always remember it. It was an awesome experience."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.