By his own admission, Evan Anundsen was "so depressed" when he woke up this morning. He sure isn't feeling that way now.
Anundsen, a 20-year-old Brewers prospect, hurled a nine-inning no-hitter on Tuesday to lead visiting Brevard County to a 1-0 victory over the Daytona Cubs. It was the second no-hitter in the Minor Leagues this season, but the first in which one pitcher lasted all nine innings.
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Anundsen's early morning depression was a result of the game's 10:35 a.m. start time. He and his teammates had to get up at 6 a.m. in order to catch a bus to Daytona.
"It was really hard to get to sleep early, since we usually play at night," said Anundsen, the Brewers' fourth-round selection in the 2006 Draft. "I was doing my best not to fall asleep on the bus. But nothing matters once you step across the white lines."
And once Anundsen was inside the white lines, he was lights out. The Colorado native struck out a career-high 10 batters en route to the first no-hitter in the Florida State League since 2006, and the first complete-game shutout of his four-year professional career. He faced three batters over the minimum, walking one and hitting one.
"I'm a sinkerball pitcher, and my plan of attack is to get as many three-pitch outs as possible," said Anundsen, who went 12-8 over 28 starts with the Class A West Virginia Power last season. "I tried to get ahead in the count, and keep guys swinging early and often."
As dominant as Anundsen was, a Brevard County victory was anything but a forgone conclusion. The game remained scoreless through the first seven frames, as spot starter Craig Muschko and the Daytona bullpen kept the Manatees off the board. Brevard County finally broke through in the eighth, as Logan Schafer ripped a one-out triple and scored on Caleb Gindl's single to center field.
The closeness of the game made it so Anundsen didn't have to obsess over the fact that he had a no-hitter going.
"I was just sitting there hoping we'd score," he said. "Everyone on the team was focusing on their own job, going about their own business. It was a total team effort."
The ninth inning was not without its share of drama. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Anundsen induced Nate Samson to hit a pop-up to shortstop Nate Brewer. The final out seemed imminent, but Brewer dropped the ball and Samson made it to second.
"That's just part of playing during the day. That ball was in the sun and it was a real tough play," said Anundsen. "I wasn't going to blame [Brewer]. It was just a little mental process I had to go through, like 'Now a guy's at second. Get over it.' We had worked so hard, and I wasn't about to let it fall apart."
Indeed, Anundsen quickly gathered himself and struck out Tyler Colvin to end the ballgame. It wasn't yet one in the afternoon, and he had already turned in the greatest outing of his professional career. All that was left to do was celebrate.
"I think my roommates and I are going to have a cookout," said Anundsen. "But the first thing I want to do is take a nap."