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Blach goes distance in two-hit shutout

Giants' No. 23 prospect blanks opposition for second time this year
August 10, 2016

Ty Blach has been on a roll lately for the Triple-A River Cats. He punctuated that with a fantastic outing Wednesday.

San Francisco's No. 23 prospect pitched a two-hit shutout to lead Sacramento past Tacoma, 2-0. He struck out seven batters while walking two, only allowing one runner past first base.

"Just executing pitches and getting ahead," Blach said. "Being able to execute when I was ahead in the count, and the defense was making great plays all day. ... Pretty much just rolled with what [catcher Miguel Olivo] was calling. ... We were on the same page all day long, I don't think I shook him off once."

The 25-year-old left-hander threw a first-pitch strike to 22 of 31 batters, including six in a row in the sixth and seventh and 12 of the final 13 he faced.

Blach (13-6) allowed his first baserunner with one out in the fourth inning, issuing a walk to Mike Freeman. He issued a free pass to Dan Vogelbach two batters later, but wouldn't allow another runner to get into scoring position the rest of the way.

The no-hit bid went by the wayside on a one-out single by Zach Shank in the fifth, but Blach went on to retire the next 12 batters before Freeman singled with one out in the ninth.

"Just going out there and trying to get outs -- get your team deep into the game as a starting pitcher," he said. "If you're lucky to get that chance at a no-hitter, awesome, but at the same time, it's the last thing on your mind as a pitcher out there."

The Creighton product had thrown a season-high 107 pitches after eight frames, but River Cats manager Jose Alguacil didn't hesitate to send him out for the ninth in a tight game -- and Blach rewarded his skipper's faith by striking out the final two batters.

"I didn't know how many pitches I was at, so I was just assuming I was good, pitch-count wise," the 6-foot-2, 200-pound hurler said. "I was ready to go back out; I was going strong. Just thankful they gave me the opportunity. After giving up a hit in the ninth, for them to stick with me, it was nice to know they had confidence in me. As a pitcher, if the team has confidence in you, you have it in yourself."

After allowing five runs on nine hits and two walks to the same Tacoma team on June 22, Blach was 6-5 with a 4.67 ERA -- numbers similar to his 11-12 record and 4.46 ERA in 27 starts with Sacramento last season. He's turned the corner in eight starts since, going 7-1 with a 1.40 ERA and two shutouts to lower his ERA to 3.36. The Colorado native leads the Pacific Coast League in complete games (three), wins (13) and innings pitched (144 2/3).

"The biggest thing for me has just been getting ahead of hitters," Blach said. "Early in the year, I had some struggles getting ahead -- I was behind some guys, giving up hard contact. It makes it a lot easier to pitch as a pitcher when you're working ahead and able to dictate the pace of the game."

Blach ran his road record this season to 9-2 with a 2.76 ERA, a stark contrast to his marks in Sacramento (4-4, 4.14). The 2012 fifth-round pick was far better at home last season, with a 3.59 ERA at Raley Field compared to 5.40 away from home. He chalked the big difference in his splits up to "the random luck of things."

"Sacramento is a great place to pitch -- I love pitching there," Blach said. "I had some rough outings there early in the year, so it kind of skews the stats. Every time you get the ball every fifth day, you try to compete for your team. It doesn't matter whether it's home or on the road."

Giants' No. 22 prospect Austin Slater doubled a run home in the third and Travis Ishikawa homered in the fourth.

Tacoma right-hander Cody Martin (9-7) took the loss, allowing two runs on six hits over five innings.

Chris Tripodi is an editor for Follow him on Twitter @christripodi.