It was 94 degrees at first pitch in Winston-Salem on Monday, and Ryan Buch certainly had Potomac sweating it out for about seven innings.
"I felt good, it was a hot day, so I tried to make it go quick for all the hitters," Buch said with a laugh.
The right-hander, eventually drained by the heat himself, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his second Carolina League start in the Class A Advanced Dash's 7-1 win over the Nationals.
Buch was pulled with 103 pitches in the seventh, and he had no problem handing his gem over to the bullpen.
"Today was my first no-hit start. I kinda wanted to see it, it would have been exciting," he said. "We have a lot of confidence in our bullpen, though. It's just a no-hitter, and the 'W' is a lot more important than a no-hitter."
The 23-year-old got the win, his first with the Dash. Buch worked three 1-2-3 frames, working around five walks and a handful of stolen bases over 6 2/3 innings to earn his fifth overall victory this year.
"I did walk a few. My command wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I felt pretty confident with my off-speed pitches," he said. "I got a lot of outs on my curve. When I got ahead 1-1 or 1-2, I think I did well with my curve. It was my go-to pitch."
The 6-foot-3 right-hander worked out of several jams en route to the Dash's one-hit shutout. He picked up two of his three strikeouts in the second when he stranded Steve Souza, who walked and stole a base.
Buch worked around two more free passes and a steal in the fourth and used an inning-ending double play to strand another runner in the fifth. It was around then when he realized he had a no-hitter cooking.
"Only 'cause someone in the dugout said something," he said. "I wasn't thinking about it, I'd walked a few guys."
The Yardley, Pa. native out of Monmouth, who faced 24 batters, got the first two outs of the seventh before Winston-Salem manager Julio Vinas handed the ball over to reliever Santos Rodriguez for the final out.
"That's OK, Santos came in and picked me up," Buch said. "I'm still happy with it."
Rodriguez allowed a single and an RBI grounder in the eighth. Ryan Kussmaul worked out of another jam in the ninth to seal the victory.
The one-hitter for Winston-Salem (22-28) was the second hurled by Dash pitchers this season and the first in BB&T Ballpark history. Hector Santiago and the bullpen combined to allow only one hit to the Salem Red Sox on May 13 in Salem.
For Buch, it was the first hitless outing of his career following a handful of one-hit efforts. Most recently, he held Lakewood to a solo homer over six innings for Class A Kannapolis on April 4. He'd had a couple one-hit outings last season, first when he held Greeneville to one hit over six on July 2 for Rookie-level Bristol and again when he went seven frames for Class A Kannapolis on July 25.
The White Sox's eighth-rounder in 2009 began the season with the Intimidators and went 4-3 with a 3.65 ERA in eight starts -- including two complete games -- before earning a promotion last week. He made his debut May 24, holding Lynchburg to a run on seven hits over six innings in a no-decision.
Buch said he's got less room for mistakes in the Carolina League.
"It's kind of similar, but I've made some mistakes here that I would have gotten by with at [Class A]," he said. "I'm learning, but that's the biggest difference."
Buch said the heat on Memorial Day took its toll, especially when he labored in the fifth.
"My catcher [Jason Bour] did a good of coming out and talking. It was more like I needed a little breather to calm down, but that's pretty much it," he said. "Once I'd walk someone, I focused on the next batter and it worked out. But it was getting to a point in the fifth, that was my longest inning, the heat took a little energy out of me."
Bour and Dan Wagner had consecutive RBI hits in the second. Jake Oester added a run-scoring single in the third and smacked an RBI triple in the eighth to put the game out of reach on an afternoon that had a little more meaning for those in attendance.
"They played taps before the national anthem and we did a moment of silence, so it was kinda nice," Buch said of the team's Memorial Day observance. "It's not an ordinary day. It was cool, pretty exciting."