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Covey, Montas shine in AFL no-hitter

A's righties combine with Steckenrider on third gem in league history
November 1, 2016

Dylan Covey saw the final out come across the screen of his cell phone and pumped his fist. Less than two hours after he started a march into the Arizona Fall League record book, his teammates finished it.

The A's 19th-ranked prospect combined with Frankie Montas and Marlins right-hander Drew Steckenrider on the third no-hitter in AFL history Wednesday as Mesa blanked Surprise, 1-0. It was the league's first no-no since 2001.

Covey began the day by retiring 15 of the 16 hitters he faced over five innings, yielding only a one-out walk in the second to Royals infielder Mauricio Ramos. The 2013 fourth-round pick exited after throwing 27 of 44 pitches for strikes.

"It's kind of tough going out there, knowing you're only going five [innings] no matter what, so [the no-hitter] wasn't really going through my head," Covey said. "I knew I hadn't given up any hits, but I knew I was only going five innings, so it didn't really matter to me. I was just going out there and trying to get ground balls."

Montas (1-0), ranked 10th in the A's system, took over to start the sixth and retired the side in the order before issuing back-to-back walks to second-ranked Rangers prospect Andy Ibanez and Royals No. 7 prospect Ryan O'Hearn to open the seventh.

"I was not feeling pressure at all," Montas said. "With two men on base, I was just trying to get a ground-ball double play and get out of there. I did not even realize that we were throwing a no-hitter. I was just trying to go out there and do my job."

The 23-year-old right-hander went to his two-seam fastball and induced a double play grounder from Rangers No. 20 prospect Jose Trevino to escape the jam. Montas retired his final four batters, keeping the no-hitter intact through the eighth and extending his AFL scoreless streak to 11 1/3 innings.

Steckenrider came on for the ninth, having given up four hits while fanning 10 over seven scoreless innings in his first five AFL appearances. The 25-year-old right-hander struck out leadoff man Danny Mars (Red Sox) to begin the frame.

"I didn't realize [the no-hitter was happening] until he got one out," Montas said. "That's when one of my teammates said, 'Oh, my God, we're throwing a no-hitter.' I looked at the scoreboard and said, 'Come on, two more left, you can do it.'"

Covey, meanwhile, had made his way to the training room after the seventh inning. On his phone, he pulled up the play-by-play of the game and watched as Steckenrider got Red Sox No. 12 prospect Mauricio Dubon and Ibanez to fly out.

"I was the only one in the locker room at that time, so I kind of just gave a little fist pump and started packing up my bags," Covey said with a laugh.

Both Covey and Montas battled injuries during the regular season. Covey sustained a strained left oblique muscle in May after pitching 29 1/3 innings for Double-A Midland, while Montas missed the entire season recovering from off-season rib surgery. Through 19 games in the AFL, the pair has combined to allow five runs on 17 hits with 19 strikeouts against eight walks over 28 1/3 innings.

Now they can add a no-hitter to their resumes.

"It was cool, you know?" Covey said. "Definitely something special to be a part of."

In other Arizona Fall League action:

Desert Dogs 8, Scorpions 7

White Sox No. 2 prospect Zack Collins led the charge for Glendale, going 2-for-3 with a game-tying three-run shot in the sixth inning for his first AFL home run. Top Dodgers prospect Cody Bellinger capped the back-and-forth game with a walk-off single that scored roommate Willie Calhoun. The Dodgers' fourth-ranked prospect went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. White Sox left-hander Louie Lechich got the win and kept his ERA at 0.00 after working around two hits with a strikeout in the ninth. Box score

Javelinas 12, Rafters 2

Reds prospects put Peoria in the driver's seat from both sides of the ball as Brandon Dixon and Zach Vincej both collected three RBIs and Seth Varner struck out six and gave up one hit over four scoreless innings. Tigers No. 3 prospect Christin Stewart and Braves No. 18 prospect Dustin Peterson delivered run-scoring hits in the fifth for Salt River. Box score

Alex Kraft is a contributor to Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21.