The Columbia Fireflies made sure their first-ever win was truly an unforgettable one.
Thomas McIlrath pitched six innings and combined with Alex Palsha and Johnny Magliozzi on a no-hitter Saturday night as Columbia beat Charleston, 9-0, at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park.
"It's a [historic] win," McIlraith said. "We're still in awe. It was just a great, great game."
The University of Oklahoma product struck out six, walked two and did not allow a single fly ball in his full-season debut, although he was quick to credit his teammates.
"The defense behind me was great all night long and Jose Garcia called a terrific game behind the plate," McIlraith said.
McIlraith (1-0), who finished second in the Appalachian League with a 1.71 ERA for Rookie-level Kingsport last season, also helped himself by snaring Radley Haddad's comebacker in the sixth.
"That one scared me," said the 22-year-old right-hander, who was selected by the Mets in the 20th round of last year's Draft.
Palsha replaced McIlraith to start the seventh and struck out four of the six batters he faced. Like the pitcher he relieved, the Sacramento State product said this was the first time he was part of a no-hitter. And he didn't know what was unfolding as he made his way from the bullpen to the mound.
Columbia manager Jose Leger tapped Magliozzi to close things out, and the University of Florida product struck out the side in the ninth.
"I knew there was a no-hitter going on, so I was fired up," said Magliozzi, a 2013 17th-round pick. "I just wanted to pound the zone and shut it down."
Magliozzi said he knew something special was possible when he saw McIlraith get through the RiverDogs lineup the first time.
"Mac was awesome," the Massachusetts native said. "They weren't touching him at all."
It was a night of firsts for Columbia, which was playing just its third game since relocating from Savannah, Georgia, following the 2015 season.
"I don't think anybody could've expected that," Palsha said.
The Fireflies gave McIlraith a lead before he even took the mound as David Thompson belted a three-run homer in the first. He added an RBI groundout in the seventh, while Kevin Kaczmarski went 3-for-5 and scored three runs.
Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com