Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
Low-A Affiliate
The Official Site of the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels Fort Myers Mighty Mussels

Mussels pitchers combine to throw franchise’s first no-hitter since 2011

September 18, 2021

FORT MYERS, Fla. (September 18, 2021) – Regi Grace Jr, Landon Leach, Brad Hanner and Matthew Swain combined to throw a seven-inning combined no-hitter Saturday, as the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels defeated the Tampa Tarpons 3-0 at Hammond Stadium. Saturday’s no-no was the first for the Fort Myers (59-54) franchise

FORT MYERS, Fla. (September 18, 2021)Regi Grace Jr, Landon Leach, Brad Hanner and Matthew Swain combined to throw a seven-inning combined no-hitter Saturday, as the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels defeated the Tampa Tarpons 3-0 at Hammond Stadium.

Saturday’s no-no was the first for the Fort Myers (59-54) franchise since September 3, 2011 – when Alex Wimmers threw a seven-inning no-hitter against Jupiter. The only other no-hitter in franchise history (since 1992) came in 2007, when Yohan Pino tossed a seven-inning no-no against St. Lucie.

“I saw a huge competitive attitude out there,” said Grace Jr. “It’s just our pitching philosophy as an organization – throw nasty stuff in the zone. All four of us were just a little too nasty for them tonight.”

The Mussels’ pitchers finished just two batters over the minimum. Tampa’s (73-42) first base runner came in the fifth inning, a walk to Anthony Garcia. Jasson Dominguez was hit by a pitch in the sixth. In total, Fort Myers’ pitching staff retired 21 of the 23 batters they faced, striking out 11.

“I’m really, really proud of them,” pitching coach Carlos Hernandez said. “That doesn’t happen all the time. The way they did it today was awesome. Patrick Winkel did a great job behind the dish today, he deserves to be mentioned too.”

All four pitchers that spun Saturday’s no-hitter have dealt with significant adversity in their professional careers – no one more than Twins’ 2017 second round pick Landon Leach. Leach has overcome a slew of injuries that limited him to just 34 innings over his first four professional seasons.

“He’s had a rocky road since we drafted him – a lot of injuries,” Larson said. “Two shutout innings is icing on the cake for his season. Hopefully he rolls into the offseason and comes back nice and strong for 2022.”

Leach threw 17 of his 29 pitches for strikes, topping out at 94.4 mph on his fastball.

“Leach came out was just working really fast, not giving them a chance to catch their breath and keeping them off guard,” Mussels’ catcher Patrick Winkel said. “He put the ball where he wanted to put it.”

Grace Jr. started the game and spun three perfect innings, fanning four. Regi missed three months with a shoulder ailment – and has not allowed a run over 11 innings since returning from the injured list. He has struck out 15 while only allowing five base runners in that span.

“Regi was dominating with his fastball and then going to his curveball, keeping them off balance,” Winkel said.

Hanner put down the Tarpons in the sixth, facing the top third of a lineup that has led the league in virtually all offensive categories.

“I was just more focused on emptying the tank in my last outing,” Hanner said. “I just wanted to end the season on a high note, and I don’t think there’s any other way I’d want to do it.”

Swain worked the seventh, getting the final three outs in dominating fashion. He struck out all three batters he faced on just 12 pitches to notch his fifth save.

“I had a little chip on my shoulder,” said Swain. “I was just focusing and taking it pitch by pitch, trying to get strike one and eliminate hitters. Just trying to finish the season on a good note.”

Swain leads the Mussels’ active roster in both appearances (35) and innings (60.2), holding the opponents to a .194 batting average on the season.

“Swain just came in to close the door and was just blowing fastballs by them” Winkel said. “Everyone was great.”

The Mussels and Tarpons saw three of the first four games of the series get rained out, so both teams had a plethora of arms that needed work in Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We had a meeting before the game explaining how limited the innings are and to take advantage of your opportunities,” Mussels pitching coach Peter Larson said.

All four pitchers have spent the majority of the past 2-4 years working tirelessly at the Twins’ complex in Fort Myers – often rehabbing injuries and pitching in front of no fans.

“That’s what makes it more special,” Hernandez said. “To see them go home like that is going to be huge for them.”

The Mussels and Tarpons will wrap up the 2021 season at 12 p.m. on Sunday. Zarion Sharpe (6-2, 3.67) is scheduled to make the start for Fort Myers. Coverage begins at 11:45 a.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network.