After tossing seven no-hit innings Sunday night, Pirates prospect Zack Dodson had more work to do in the trainer's room. The 23-year-old briefly poked his head out for the eighth inning, then returned for the ninth.
Then Class A Advanced Bradenton lost Dodson's no-hitter and the left-hander returned to the room to finish his post-start routine. He returned moments later, and, well ...
"I made it back outside for the craziest finish I've ever seen," he said.
After Charlotte spoiled Bradenton's no-hit bid, the Stone Crabs valiantly tried for a dramatic come-from-behind victory, but the effort was spoiled by a triple play that gave the Marauders a 5-3 victory.
Tyler Waldron entered to pitch the ninth for Bradenton with Charlotte having only placed three men on base on walks issued by Dodson. Waldron issued a pass to Willie Argo to start the inning, and then Jake Hager ripped a ball down the left-field line that deflected off the glove of diving third baseman Ashley Ponce and trickled into left for the Crabs' first base hit.
Drew Vettleson reached safely on a fielder's choice that didn't yield and out, and Richie Shaffer and Alejandro Segovia blooped consecutive singles to plate the three runners.
At that point, Robert Kilcrease replaced Waldron. With Jeff Malm batting, Kilcrease threw a wild pitch that advanced Shaffer to third and Segovia to second. Hector Guevara then entered as a pinch-runner for Segovia at second.
Malm poked a fly ball into shallow right field. Dodson, who at this point was watching from a vantage point in right field, said he and many others thought the ball was going to drop, but right fielder Willy Garcia came up with a sliding catch to rob Malm of a base hit.
Guevara had taken off from second and was doubled up when Garcia tossed the ball to shortstop Gift Ngoepe. After a moment's hesitation, Ngoepe threw the ball to third at the insistence of catcher Jacob Stallings and Ponce at third base, both thought Shaffer had left the bag early.
Home plate umpire James Rackley and field umpire Clay Park briefly convened to discuss the play, and then Rackley signaled that Shaffer was out at third to end the game.
Charlotte manager Brady Williams told the team's website after the game that he thought the umpires got the call wrong.
"I knew [Shaffer] tagged up, I watched him tag up" Williams said. "You have a two-man crew, and they can't see everything with multiple baserunners out there. It's just the system is not correct and judgment calls are made."
There was also confusion initially over whether Garcia had caught the ball, though Dodson insisted the umpires made the right call there.
"I was actually right out in right field behind Willy [Garcia]," Dodson said. "I saw him come in, and I thought it would be down. He made a slide and caught it right on the tip of his glove. I can see why they thought he might've dropped it, but I saw him catch it and saw that the guy on second had gotten off.
"The guy at third, I didn't see that happen, but [Shaffer] thought he had tagged. I'm not sure, but they threw it there and got him. ... There was a lot of confusion."
The ending capped a standout performance from Dodson, who was a fourth-round Draft pick by the Pirates in 2009. The left-hander struck out four and walked three while throwing 94 pitches in the performance.
Dodson (5-8) credited his outing to his ability to throw his fastball inside.
"I talked to Stallings before the game, and the game plan was to throw in," he said. "The games I've thrown well have been when I've pitched in. From there, we just kind of took what they gave us. They weren't really getting around on it, and I tried keeping it down and did that well.
"That's something that the Pirates have preached to us since we started coming up. It's just something where you have to pitch inside. You have to keep them uncomfortable by opening up that side of the plate."
He also got some help defensively, especially from Ngoepe at short. The Pietersburg, South Africa native bailed Dodson out with a stellar play to begin the second, robbing Shaffer of a would-be base hit up the middle with a diving grab and sharp throw to first.
"Ngoepe has the best range I've ever seen from anybody in my life," he said. "[Shaffer] hit it really hard, and he just made this amazing, diving play in the outfield, and then he turns on one knee and throws the guy out at first. I've never seen a guy who can make plays like that and make plays like him."
Jake Seiner is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner.