Chattanooga starter Nathan Eovaldi got the edge in a pitchers' duel Thursday night, but the Huntsville Stars won the battle early Friday morning.
Eovaldi took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but after a scoreless game dragged on into extra frames, the Double-A Lookouts fell to the visiting Stars, 3-1, in 14 innings.
The right-hander ultimately yielded two hits and two walks while fanning five over seven innings. He did not figure in the decision.
The Dodgers' 11th-round pick out of Alvin, Texas in 2008, Eovaldi lowered his ERA to 2.62 over 82 1/3 innings this season. He's held Southern League hitters to a .209 average and yielded just two home runs while striking out 89.
The 21-year-old tossed six one-hit frames at Montgomery on May 11 and six two-hit innings against Tennessee on May 16, but had never taken a no-hitter so far into a pro game.
The two clubs' Southern League game, which lasted four hours and 53 minutes, had a little bit of everything -- except runs.
Eovaldi retired the first seven batters he faced before issuing a one-out walk to Stars second baseman Hainley Statia in the third. Statia went to second on a sacrifice bunt -- even in the third, both managers apparently knew runs would be at a premium -- but was stranded there when Logan Schaefer struck out.
After setting down nine more Stars in a row, Eovaldi surrendered his first hit to leadoff hitter Matt Cline in the seventh. Sean Halton grounded into a fielder's choice, but Huntsville third baseman Zelous Wheeler followed with a double to left. The Lookouts intentionally walked Erik Komatsu to face Brock Kjeldgaard with the bases loaded and one out.
The Stars left fielder, who is batting just .130 in nine games since his promotion from Class A Advanced Brevard County, smacked an 0-1 offering into a 6-4-3 double play. That narrow escape ended Eovaldi's night. He recorded 12 groundball outs against just two flyouts.
The Lookouts had their own chance to score in the bottom of the frame. Scott Van Slyke drew a leadoff walk and went to third on Travis Denker's single to left. Van Slyke tried to come home on Gorman Erickson's ground ball to first, but was thrown out at the plate to keep the game scoreless.
Pinch-hitter Hector Gimenez followed with a flyout to center. After Robert Wooten relieved Stars starter Wily Peralta, the Lookouts pinch-hit for Eovaldi with Jaime Pedroza, who grounded out to second.
Peralta, the Huntsville starter, was nearly as sharp as Eovaldi, allowing three hits over while fanning seven over 6 2/3 shutout innings.
The rush of substitutions at the end of the seventh led to confusion -- Pedroza, hitting ninth for the pitcher, stayed in the game at second base while new Lookouts pitcher Scott Rice moved into the No. 8 spot, replacing Gimenez.
A lack of clarity about the Lookouts' lineup changes led to a 20-minute delay as Huntsville manager Mike Guerrero lodged a protest, but the game ultimately continued -- and continued.
The Stars put two men aboard with no one out in the 10th, but a missed bunt, a popup and a flyout ended the threat. The Lookouts loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame, but Kyle Russell went down swinging.
Huntsville finally broke through in the top of the 12th. Komatsu delivered a leadoff single and stole second. With two out, Stars left fielder Lee Haydel stroked a line drive to center. As Komatsu was waved around third, Lookouts center fielder Alfredo Silverio's throw to the plate hit the back side of the pitcher's mound. Huntsville led, 1-0.
After Chattanooga put men on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the 12th, Huntsville brought in reliever Darren Byrd to close out the win. Van Slyke, who was 0-for-4, ripped the first pitch into left to tie the game.
Komatsu again got the Stars started in the 14th with a leadoff double. He moved to third on Steffan Wilson's groundout, and after Martin Maldonado drew a walk, Statia lifted a two-run double to center to put the Stars ahead for good.
Despite drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 14th, the Lookouts ran out of responses as Van Slyke struck out to end the game.
The two clubs combined for 17 hits in the 14 innings. Komatsu and Haydel had two hits apiece for the Stars, while Silverio and first baseman Brian Cavazos-Galvez had a pair each for the Lookouts. Huntsville struck out 12 times; Chattanooga, 14. They were a combined 4-for-28 with runners in scoring position and left 27 men stranded -- 16 by the Lookouts alone.
Despite allowing the game-tying hit to Van Slyke, Byrd (5-3) got the win for the Stars. He gave up two hits in 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
Former Dodgers first-round pick Ethan Martin (0-1) suffered his first Double-A loss in his fourth appearance with the Lookouts. The right-hander yielded two runs on two hits and a walk in the 14th inning.