It's been about three years since the Cubs decided to shift Kyler Burke from the outfield to the mound. In that time, there's been no sweeter moment than what he experienced Tuesday night.
The 25-year-old left-hander handled the bulk of Class A Advanced Daytona's second no-hitter of the season, firing five innings as the Cubs blanked Dunedin, 1-0, to complete a doubleheader sweep at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Burke (6-1) took over for Ben Wells, who started the contest on Wednesday before it was suspended. The southpaw struck out four and walked two before handing the no-hit bid over to Zach Cates, a former starter who fanned two in a perfect seventh to record his second save.
"It was pretty awesome. Kind of a weird day, completing two games like we did," Burke said. "I just went out there and threw like it was a normal start and just took it one hitter at a time. It's an awesome win for us.
"I've had some good games here and there but never been part of a no-hitter. It's definitely one of the cooler things I've been a part of."
It was a big win in another way for the Cubs, who clinched the Florida State League North Division second-half title. Daytona opened an insurmountable 7 1/2-game lead on Lakeland and Clearwater, who are tied for second, and will face first-half champion Dunedin yet again in the opening round of the FSL playoffs.
It also marked the second time this season Daytona no-hit Dunedin. On July 8, Matt Loosen went the distance in a nine-inning gem.
For Burke (6-1), it was additional validation that his experiment with pitching is proving to be a successful one. On May 25, he tossed five one-hit frames in his second start of the year.
As Tuesday's game unfolded, he said finishing the no-hitter became something he and his team could accomplish.
"I thought about it on the bench, like in the fifth inning, but as soon as I was back on the mound I was just focused on the pitch and the execution of the pitch," he said. "I had a great defense behind me, the guys made some big plays and it all worked out there in the end.
"It was fun. Everybody kind of got around on the mound and jumped around and everybody's just congratulating me. In a playoff race, though, the biggest thing is we won a one-run ballgame. It's fun, that time of year, in a playoff race and it was big just to get another win tonight. "
Burke lowered his ERA to 2.87 in 12 games, including seven starts. Over 47 innings, he's struck out 34 batters and walked 17.
"Cates came in and shut the door, pretty awesome night," the Tennessee native said. "You get your name in the [record] books, so it's pretty cool. It's one of those things that doesn't really set in right away but definitely something that'll be cool down the road to look back on and say, 'Hey, threw a no-hitter.' I'm just grateful for the opportunity."
Cates got some help in the seventh from shortstop Elliot Soto. With the Cubs two outs away from the no-hitter, Dunedin's K.C. Hobson hit a shot that hit Cates. Soto barehanded the deflection and just got the runner at first base.
Soto also scored the game's lone run, doubling with one out in the third and coming home on a two-out single by Dustin Geiger, who ranks third in the FSL with 82 RBIs. Cubs No. 4 prospect Kris Bryant added a double.
In the opener, Geiger had two hits, including a two-run homer, and Pin-Chieh Chen went 3-for-4 with two RBIs as Daytona posted a 6-4 victory.