Bowling Green was a strike away from its first no-hitter, but settled for a one-hitter and a 1-0 victory over Fort Wayne on Thursday.
Shane Dyer tied a career high with eight strikeouts and walked one over seven innings and the Hot Rods were a strike out away from the no-no when Jason Hagerty singled off Kirby Yates in the top of the ninth inning.
Dyer hit two batters and threw one of his 93 pitches wild while improving to 2-2 with a 1.25 ERA.
"I located the fastball," Dyer said. "I pitched in and pitched away. And when I missed, I missed in so I made them move their feet and didn't allow them to stay comfortable in the box. When I locate my fastball, it makes my slider and changeup really effective."
The 22-year-old right-hander became the third pitcher in Bowling Green history to leave the game without giving up a hit. And he was clutch too, because Fort Wayne right-hander Jerry Sullivan gave up one run on five hits while striking out six over seven innings for the hard-luck loss.
"I knew I was going pretty good," Dyer said. "It was in the back of my mind subconsciously, but consciously, I really tried to stay focused and not worry about something that's not that important."
Dyer allowed three baserunners in the first two innings with a walk and two hit batsman. He retired 13 straight batters before Nathan Freiman reached on a fielding error by shortstop Robi Estrada.
Yates picked up where Dyer left off in the eighth. He struck out the side in the eighth and fanned the first two batters of the ninth. Then he hit Freiman with a pitch and Hagerty followed with a groundball single through the left side to end the no-hit bid. All six outs the right-hander recorded en route to his third save were strikeouts.
An RBI single by Christopher Murrill gave the Hot Rods a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
"I really felt my stamina was right there with me the whole way," Dyer said. "I felt like I could've gone another 25, 30 or 40 pitches solid. But that's not my call, that's an organizational policy and I'm not one to challenge that."
Dyer has rebounded nicely from a disappointing 2009 campaign. The sixth-round Draft pick in 2008 was 1-10 with a 5.06 ERA in 25 games -- 16 starts -- for Bowling Green. This season, he has allowed five earned runs total in his six starts. He has 28 strikeouts and four walks in 36 innings.
"It's a combination of things," he said. "It's another year [of experience]. I came into this year with a different role. It was tough to stand out with the staff we had last year. This year I feel like I'm a varsity pitcher going down to pitch on the JV."
But Dyer's ultimate motivation is to move up another level.
"It always comes as a disappointment when you don't move up the ladder on schedule," he said.
Bowling Green swept Fort Wayne and improved to 8-19 in the Midwest League's Eastern Division.
"[We wanted] to get the sweep and give us momentum going on this road trip," Dyer said. "We haven't exactly been racking up the wins, and I knew it would be good for our pitching staff to get a sweep before we go on the road."