Austin Sodders fell five outs shy of making history on Saturday, but it didn't bother him. The only thing that mattered was the final score.
The 23-year-old took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning for Class A Advanced Lakeland in a 4-2 victory over St. Lucie at First Data Field. He walked four and struck out four on 106 pitches.
Gameday box score
"I noticed after five innings that I had one, but at that point it didn't mean much to me because it was still early in the game and I knew I needed to just focus on my execution," Sodders said. "I just consistently reminded myself later in the game to keep a narrow focus so I didn't get too ahead of myself. That helped me stay in the present moment."
The southpaw set down the first eight batters he faced, then settled in again to retire 11 in a row in a stretch that spanned the fourth through eighth innings.
"I felt pretty good. I had a good three-pitch mix going with my fastball, changeup and curveball early on," he said. "At times throughout the game I lost command of my fastball, but it helped me get back on track by throwing toward my glove side of the plate. I just tried to battle."
Sodders (2-2) got a boost from left fielder Cam Gibson, who robbed leadoff hitter Jacob Zanon of an extra-base hit with a spectacular catch in the opening frame, then took a homer away from Mets No. 20 prospect Luis Carpio for the second out in the seventh.
"The defense did an incredible job. We know we can trust them every time the ball is put in play," he said. "Those two plays Cam made today were pretty special. I knew [Carpio] hit it well, but I also saw earlier this series that their ballpark can play big. Once I saw Cam had a chance on it, I felt pretty good about what the result would be."
The only hit the UC Riverside product allowed came on a 3-1 pitch to No. 9 hitter Dan Rizzie, who singled up the middle with one out in the eighth. Sodders was then replaced by righty Eduardo Jimenez.
"I did a poor job of execution there and fell behind in the count," he said. "It was a 3-1 fastball away, and he did a good job of taking advantage of it. After it happened, I knew it would probably be my last hitter because my pitch count was up there. I wasn't upset he got a hit though."
Jimenez inherited runners on first and second and, after a four-pitch walk to Zanon, gave up a run-scoring fielder's choice to top Mets prospect Andres Gimenez. After Kevin Kaczmarski delivered an RBI single, seventh-ranked Desmond Lindsay flied to center field to end the inning. Both runs were charged to Sodders.
The 2016 seventh-round pick has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his seven starts with the Flying Tigers this season. In 41 2/3 innings -- ranked fourth in the Florida State League -- he has a 4.10 ERA with 36 punchouts against eight walks.
"I place a lot of value in sticking to a consistent routine of preparation between each start," Sodders said. "I also believe being disciplined in your preparation is the best way to create trust in yourself, regardless of whether you are having success or facing adversity."
Danny Pinero, Cole Bauml and Anthony Pereira all drove in runs for Lakeland, and Chad Sedio scampered home on a passed ball after lacing a leadoff triple to right in the seventh. Right-hander Joe Navilhon locked down his second save after allowing a hit and fanning one in the ninth.
Righty Gary Cornish (1-2) got the start for St. Lucie and surrendered two runs on five hits with three walks and a strikeout over four frames.
Lakeland's last no-hitter happened on July 19, 2008 when Rick Porcello, Robbie Weinhardt and Cody Satterwhite combined on a seven-inning gem against St. Lucie in the second game of a doubleheader.