Nothing good comes from losing the deciding game of a championship series. A defeat like that can stain an otherwise successful season. Sometimes, however, it can have more far-reaching positive effects.
Such appears to be the case with Marlins prospects Adam Conley and J.T. Realmuto.
The battery was part of the Class A Advanced Jupiter squad that fell to Lakeland in five games in last year's Florida State League finals. But Conley and Realmuto developed a relationship that could lead to success at higher levels, specifically Double-A Jacksonville, where both have started the 2013 season.
"We developed a camaraderie in Jupiter, for sure," said Realmuto, Miami's No. 12 prospect. "And that's definitely carried over here this season, I think. We both know what pitches work best in what situations. He's never really shaking me off when it comes to that. We're almost always on the same page and it makes both of our jobs much easier."
It was evident Saturday night.
Conley struck out eight and did not walk a batter over five innings as the Suns held the Jackson Generals to one hit in a 1-0 victory.
James Leverton (three innings) and Scott McGough (one inning) were perfect in relief to preserve the one-hitter. Zack Cox drove in Kyle Jensen with a sacrifice fly in the ninth to give the Suns the walk-off win.
Conley, the Marlins' No. 8 prospect, allowed the Generals' only hit when Brad Miller reached on a broken-bat single to right field with two outs in the first inning. He retired the final 13 batters he faced and threw 40 of 55 pitches for strikes. Miller's hit was the only batted ball to reach the outfield during the 22-year-old left-hander's time on the mound.
"Usually, the biggest staple in a good outing for me is if I'm mixing my pitches well and working the fastball to both sides of the plate," Conley said. "I think I did a good job of that. ... J.T. called a great game, and between him and my defense behind me, I knew I had all I needed to pitch well."
The Washington State prospect went 11-5 with a 3.47 ERA, 135 strikeouts and 43 walks over 127 innings between Jupiter and Class A Greensboro a season ago. Although he enjoyed success, he struck out eight (his total Saturday night) only twice and did not allow a free pass in three of 26 starts.
And yet, there was still the one hit, sticking out among the zeros on the scoreboard at Bragan Field. Conley, though, said he won't lose any sleep over one single.
"I usually have a pretty good awareness for this kind of stuff," he said. "But tonight, it was just getting my first Double-A start, the first start of 2013 out of the way. Now I'm going to try to focus on the process of pitching and repeating that kind of success and everything should work itself out."
Leverton struck out two in relief of his fellow southpaw, while the right-handed McGough got two groundouts and a popout in a perfect ninth. Although they finished off the one-hitter, their catcher would rather highlight the night's other result.
"I don't think there's nearly as much as pressure as maybe a no-hitter," Realmuto said. "I think everyone's more worried about not giving up a run because it was a 0-0 ballgame at that point."
The 1-0 decision gave Jacksonville a collective streak of 13 scoreless innings. And Realmuto thinks the Suns could be set to tack on a few more frames, thanks to the efforts of Conley, Leverton, McGough and Cox.
"Oh, it's awesome, winning 1-0 like that, like we did," Realmuto said. "It means we didn't have to go extras. And the best part about that is saving some of our arms for the future."