It's rare that a scoreless stretch that extends nearly a month can be overshadowed, but Emilio Ogando did his best to do just that.
The Royals prospect took a no-hitter into the seventh and extended his scoreless streak to 31 innings as Double-A Northwest Arkansas beat Springfield, 4-1, on Tuesday night at Arvest Ballpark.
Video: Northwest Arkansas' Ogando whiffs fifth batter
Ogando (11-6) did not allow a hit until Johan Mieses singled leading off the seventh. It was the only hit against the 25-year-old, who walked two, hit a batter, struck out five and threw 92 pitches in his fifth consecutive scoreless start. He shattered the Naturals record set by reliever Tim Hill, who pitched 21 1/3 straight shutout innings last season.
"Honestly, I wasn't trying to think too much about [the no-hitter]," Ogando said, "I was focused on getting the next guy out. Obviously, I knew what was going on out there, but I was taking it pitch by pitch and batter by batter. There wasn't too much disappointment when he singled though."
Gameday box score
Despite flirting with a no-hitter, Ogando did not pitch a clean inning until the third. He plunked Evan Mendoza in the first and issued a leadoff walk to John Nogowski in the second. Cardinals No. 6 prospect Andrew Knizner reached on a throwing error by third baseman and Royals No. 17 prospect Kelvin Gutierrez in the fourth and Nogowski walked again to put a runner in scoring position for the Cardinals, but Ogando got Victor Roache to tap back to the mound to end the inning.
Video: Mieses singles for Springfield's first hit
The Florida native set down Springfield in order in the fifth and sixth, striking out three, before Mieses lined the first pitch into left to break up the no-hitter. Ogando set down Nogowski, Roache and Blake Drake in order to extend the shutout streak that began in the final inning of his July 22 start against Tulsa. Going back to a July 17 matchup with Springfield, he's yielded three runs in his last 42 frames.
"I wouldn't say I'm out there being overconfident," he said. "But I do feel like I can dominate each time I take the mound. Honestly, [this type of streak] is a first for me. I'm just trying to execute the best I can on every pitch I throw. But it definitely feels good.".
The 2014 12th-round pick has been steady on the hill since making his pro debut. He won 11 games and posted a 3.72 ERA over 164 1/3 innings across three Minor League levels last season and has reduced his ERA for the Naturals from 6.69 on July 17 to 4.66.
"I've been working all season with [pitching coach Steve Luebber]," the St. Thomas University product said. "I've made a few tweaks here and there and worked on some different grips. But it's mostly trying to get better every single outing. It's a good feeling lately, but I still have a few games to go. I'm not ready to put this year in the books just yet."
Gabe Speier allowed a run on two hits over two innings of relief of Ogando. Samir Duenez stroked a two-run homer to snap a scoreless tie in the fourth.
Springfield starter Matt Pearce (0-6) gave up four runs -- three earned -- on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts in five innings.