Tyler Pike was a huge part of the first no-hitter ever at Heritage Field and High Desert's first anywhere in nearly eight years. But even he couldn't believe the Mavericks pulled it off.
"It's unreal," the Mariners' No. 9 prospect said, "especially at the field we play at, where it's pretty much unheard of to [allow] no runs, let alone no hits."
Pike tied a career high with eight strikeouts over six innings and combined with Mark Bordonaro and Blake Hauser on Class A Advanced High Desert's 5-0 win over visiting Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday night.
Bordonaro (1-1) fanned four in the seventh and eighth, while Hauser worked around a walk and a hit batter in the ninth before finishing off the second no-hitter in team history and first since Aug. 21, 2006.
Pike, a 20-year-old left-hander, had not made a scoreless start this year. Since surrendering seven runs on five hits over two innings on Friday against Bakersfield, he's spent time talking with pitching coach Andrew Lorraine about his mental approach.
"I've been struggling the last couple starts. I worked hard with my pitching coach to simplify everything, just throw strikes and keep the ball down in the zone," Pike said. "I was trying too hard, trying to do too much instead of just working with what I had."
The adjustments paid off immediately. He picked up two strikeouts in a perfect first inning and, after issuing a leadoff walk to Chris Jacobs in the second, struck out the side.
"I was just happy. I was trying to be happy out there, have fun," Pike said. "When you do that, you don't have a care in the world. And it worked out for me."
The Florida native cruised through the next three innings before issuing a two-out walk to Adam Law that ended a streak of 14 batters retired.
"Actually, the first pitch I had set to throw a changeup and I came up out of the windup and the ball hit my shirt. It went squirting maybe 40 feet over to the third-base dugout," Pike said. "They called it a ball, and I had a good laugh."
Arm fatigue was not a factor in his second walk of the night.
"I think it was just I wasn't really focused at that point," Pike said. "I only [threw] 82 pitches."
Aware that the sixth would be his last inning of work, he didn't bother lobbying for the chance to go further.
"I knew I was on a strict pitch count," he said. "Our whole system is."
Pike missed Bordonaro strike out the side in the seventh and missed the Mavericks score five times in the eighth to break a scoreless tie. No. 2 Mariners prospect D.J. Peterson slugged a two-run homer to cap a 3-for-4 night.
"I didn't see Bordy pitch at all. I was up in the clubhouse, doing shoulder work," Pike explained. "I came back out and we were up five runs and I got to watch Hauser pitch the ninth."
Hauser erased a walk in with a double play, but he hit top Dodgers prospect and California League batting leader Corey Seager, who took second on defensive indifference and went to third on a wild pitch. Pike wasn't worried that one swing could end the no-hitter and the shutout.
"I wasn't nervous at all. We were up five runs, so I knew we were going to get the win. Anything else was extra," he said. "But the no-hitter is awesome, of course, and it's great to do it as a team."
Pike, a 2012 third-round Draft pick, had been part of a no-hitter as an amateur.
"I did it in high school, one time," he said. "This is the first one I've ever really been a part of as a pro. It's a pretty amazing feeling."
Rancho Cucamonga had never been involved in a no-hitter.
Quakes starter and seventh-ranked Dodgers prospect Tom Windle struck out seven and gave up four hits while matching Pike with six scoreless innings.
"He was throwing well," Pike said. "Everybody was coming into the dugout, saying he was spotting well. I was just going out there, knowing I had to keep putting up zeros and hopefully, we'd be able to put up some runs eventually."
Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com.