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Tennessee's Holliman no-hits Huntsville

Smokies right-hander also cranks two-run homer in 3-0 shutout
June 21, 2007
Mark Holliman ended a personal four-game losing streak in style, hurling a seven-inning no-hitter as Tennessee blanked visiting Huntsville, 3-0, in Thursday's doubleheader opener.

Holliman (7-5) faced one batter over the minimum in a near-perfect effort. The 23-year-old right-hander retired the first six batters, issued a leadoff walk to Adam Heether in the top of the third inning and mowed down the final 15 men he faced.

He also helped himself at the plate, smacking a two-run homer in the fifth inning.

Earlier this season, Holliman pitched eight scoreless innings on two occasions -- including a two-hit performance against Mississippi on May 19 -- but Thursday's no-no marked the first complete game of his professional career.

"I'm feeling on top of the world," said Holliman who had not pitched a no-hitter in high school or college. "As far as Little League, I don't even know if we kept stats back then."

Holliman struck out three batters and lowered his ERA to 2.49 in a game that lasted just one hour and 26 minutes. He threw 51 of 81 pitches for strikes, with his fastball topping out at 90 mph.

"I was mixing up my fastball, curveball, changeup and slider," said the University of Mississippi product, who also cranked a two-run homer in the fifth, his second of the season.

"Once I got into the fifth and sixth innings, I knew I only had a few more outs to go," Holliman said. "I didn't keep real quiet. It wasn't a no-talk situation."

Despite his laid-back demeanor, there were several near-hits that almost wiped out his gem.

"We had a couple close calls down the first-base line and third-base line," Holliman said. "It was definitely like one of those games I've always seen where guys are making plays behind you to keep things intact."

The no-hitter was the third in the brief history of Smokies Park, which opened on April 20, 2000. The first was a six-inning effort by Leo Estrella against the Orlando Rays on May 27, 2000. Nearly two years later, Rays pitcher Gerardo Garcia repaid in kind with a seven-inning no-hitter during a doubleheader.

Sam Fuld put the Smokies (38-33) on the board with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first.

After Jorge Cortes led off the fifth with a double, Holliman connected with a first-pitch fastball and drove his dinger to left-center field.

"I'd spoken with [hitting] coach [Barbaro Garbey] before," Holliman said. "If there's a runner in scoring position, he wants us to drive him in as if we were any other player. I was just trying to do anything I could to get that run in, and luckily for me it went over the fence."

Tennessee's Gary Cates, the only player with more than one hit, went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.

Starter Corey Thurman (2-4) took the loss for the Stars (38-33), giving up all three runs on seven hits in five innings. He didn't record a strikeout or a walk. Bo Hall allowed one hit in a scoreless inning of relief.

After the walk, Heether was forced out at second when Alcides Escobar bounced into a fielder's choice. Escobar advanced to second on a groundout by Thurman, but Mel Stocker flied out to end the inning.

Zack Hample is a contributor to