After seeing teammate Nick Fanti hurl 8 2/3 innings in Class A Lakewood's no-hitter last week, JoJo Romero made a bid for his own milestone Wednesday night.
Philadelphia's No. 26 prospect allowed one hit over eight innings to keep Greenville grounded in the BlueClaws' 3-0 victory at FirstEnergy Park. Romero notched a career-high eight strikeouts and recorded 12 outs on the ground in his longest professional outing, lowering his ERA to 2.20.
"I was in attack mode from the beginning, attacking with the fastball. I think I threw about maybe 16 offspeed total and the rest fastballs," Romero said. "My sinker was working and I was getting all of those ground balls ... made it a lot easier on myself."
The left-hander issued three walks, but followed each of the first two free passes with ground-ball double plays to face the minimum over the first five innings.
"It goes back to that sinker," Romero said. "Usually, I'll have to find the feel for it in like the third inning, but this time I had feel for it right off the bat. I told my catcher [Edgar Cabral], 'It feels good. Let's keep riding it out.' And sure enough, I had all those groundouts."
The 20-year-old carried the no-hit bid into the sixth, beginning the frame with strikeouts of Carlos Tovar and Yoan Aybar. Boston's No. 15 prospect Lorenzo Cedrola fell behind, 0-2, before stroking a double to left field against a somewhat surprised Romero.
"When [the first hit] happened, I kind of realized [a potential no-hitter] was happening," he said. "Once I left that pitch a little up and he got a little barrel on it, I turned around and saw. It happens."
The California native then struck out Santiago Espinal on three pitches to strand Cedrola. Romero delivered a 1-2-3 seventh with three groundouts and completed his outing with a punchout of Aybar in the eighth. He recorded seven strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings in his previous career high against Hagerstown on April 18.
"My preparation leading up to this, I think, is the biggest thing," he said. "I incorporated a couple of new things during the week. I think that helped a lot and allowed me to go a little bit longer than what I usually do."
It was the longest outing for Romero since emerging victorious in the 2016 NJCAA Championship with a complete-game 15-strikeout effort for Yavapai Junior College (Arizona).
"I was there in the dugout and I had little flashbacks of what it was like then. Just staying in attack mode and bringing it to them," Romero said. "Once I got to like the fifth, sixth inning, I told myself just keep riding that wave. Sure enough, it was what carried me through."
Lakewood reliever Trevor Bettencourt, who was called on to record the final out of the combined no-no with Fanti, surrendered another hit to Cedrola, but struck out the next three batters to finish the contest.
A two-run single by Darick Hall highlighted the BlueClaws' three-run third.