Inland Empire 66ers pitching coach Charlie Hough thought Marlon Arias was "good enough to be perfect" the last time he threw on the side. Arias almost made Hough look prophetic.
Arias tossed the fourth no-hitter in team history Wednesday night, coming within a pair of walks of a perfect game, as the 66ers blanked the Bakersfield Blaze, 2-0.
A 22-year-old left-hander, Arias struck out 10 and walked two in Inland Empire's first no-hitter since Marcos Castillo's perfect game on June 14, 1999 at Lake Elsinore. Arias joined the elite company of Mike Hampton and Ted Lilly, who threw the first two no-hitters in 66ers' history.
"It's beautiful," Arias said. "It feels amazing."
Arias cruised through the first two innings but walked Tony Roth leading off the third. The native of the Dominican Republic shook it off and struck out Terry Blunt and Hunter Harrigan before Roth stole second. The southpaw ended the only threat by Bakersfield (12-21) by getting Johany Abreu to pop out.
"After the walk in the third, I started thinking no-hitter instead of perfect game," Arias said.
Blunt drew a leadoff walk in the sixth but was promptly picked off. In the ninth, Arias retired Blunt on a popup before striking out Harrigan and Abreu to set off a celebration at Arrowhead Credit Union Park.
Arias stayed in uniform and signed autographs for several minutes after the gem.
Inland Empire catcher Luke May was happy to play a key role in the historic game.
"It's definitely the most exciting thing I've ever been a part of," he said. "It tops every homer I've hit, every play I've made."
Hough has seen it all in his five-decade career. The former knuckleballer also was the pitching coach when Lilly threw his no-hitter on May 10, 1997.
"Hough said the last time that I had a pitching session that I was 'good enough to be perfect,'" Arias recalled.
Arias was signed by the Dodgers in 2003 as a non-drafted free agent and struggled to pitch past the sixth inning last season, when he split time between Class A Columbus of the South Atlantic League and Class A Advanced Vero Beach of the Florida State League. Wednesday was his longest outing since he pitched eight innings against Rome last June 9.
The 66ers (17-16) gave Arias the only run he needed in the second, when Russell Mitchell doubled and scored on James Tomlin's single to center field. Lucas May doubled home Ivan De Jesus with an insurance tally in the sixth.
Blaze starter Edinson Volquez (0-4) took the hard-luck loss. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out five.
Arias' gem was the 26th nine-inning complete-game no-hitter in the history of the hitter-friendly California League.
Danny Wild is a contributor to MLB.com.