Chris Vallimont had gone seven innings in each of his previous two starts with mixed results in one win and one loss. On Tuesday, he left nothing to chance.
The Marlins prospect was perfect through six frames and finished with seven hitless innings, combining with reliever C.J. Carter on a one-hitter as Class A Clinton beat Beloit, 5-0, at Pohlman Field.
"Today, I used my changeup a lot more than usual," Vallimont said. "I think having that fourth pitch really helped out, gave more life to my fastball and just seemed to get them off of the fastball, and they couldn't eliminate the breaking ball or anything. I really had all four working for me today."
Gameday box score
The right-hander was orderly in dispatching the first 18 batters he faced, recording eight strikeouts and six groundouts. The Snappers didn't hit a ball out of the infield until Devin Foyle lined to left in the third, and only one ball put in play through the sixth was scored as a flyout: Cobie Vance's drive into the glove of right fielder Jerar Encarnacion for the second out of the fifth.
Vallimont cruised through the sixth, striking out the side in his last perfect inning, but ran into self-inflicted trouble before working out of it in the seventh. The Erie, Pennsylvania, native walked Beloit leadoff hitter Joseph Pena, then issued a free pass to Lester Madden after striking out Brallan Perez. With two on and one out, Vallimont got John Jones to line to Encarnacion before pushing Pena and Madden into scoring position with a wild pitch. The 22-year-old rebounded to finish his hitless outing by getting Vance to fly to left.
Tuesday's win came in a typical Minor League day game -- an 11 a.m. start time in front of a crowd full of children. That didn't throw Vallimont off.
"It really didn't have that much of an effect on me, just because on game days when I am starting, I usually get up early anyway," he said. "I don't know, it almost helped out a little bit."
On May 9, he was terrific at Bowling Green, limiting the Hot Rods to one run on three hits while striking out seven and walking two to pick up his second win of the year. Five days later, Vallimont was tagged for five runs on seven hits, walking three to go with six strikeouts in a loss to Cedar Rapids.
"I came off a rough outing last week and just wanted to kind of keep my strengths and go out and attack and not really take last week's outing into [account] and let it affect me," he said. "I just went out and did my thing and it just seemed to work today."
It was the third hitless appearance of Vallimont's career but the first longer than three innings. The Mercyhurst product tossed three no-hit frames for Class A Short Season Batavia last July 17 and again on Aug. 20.
2019 MiLB include
C.J. Carter struck out the side in the eighth and whiffed the first batter in the ninth to put Clinton within two outs of its first no-hitter since Pedro Vasquez, Joey Strain, Lukas Schiraldi and Matt Walker combined on one on Aug. 9, 2016, but Pena lined a single through the right side to get the Snappers into the hit column. Carter fanned Perez and got Madden to pop out to first to complete the shutout.
"I mean, obviously, it would've been awesome to have [the no-hitter], but I guess it didn't work out today," Vallimont said.
He ran his record to 3-3 and dropped his ERA to 2.70, giving him confidence going forward.
"I think just trying to focus on next pitch, next game, not really take this outing into account," he said. "It doesn't really matter what you did before. I'm just trying to go out and attack and do the same thing."