P.J. Conlon recorded the last out of the seventh inning and turned to walk back to the dugout as he normally would. It took him a moment to realize, for the first time in his career, there were no more outs to get.
The Mets' No. 22 prospect tossed a one-hitter for his first Minor League shutout on Saturday, recording a career-high nine strikeouts, as Double-A Binghamton topped New Hampshire, 9-0, in the second game of a doubleheader at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. It was the 10th one-hitter in Rumble Ponies history.
Through six innings, Conlon (3-1) yielded only a leadoff single to Gunnar Heidt in the third. The left-hander set down the next 14 batters, striking out the last five. A two-out walk to Ryan McBroom in the seventh ended the streak, but the 23-year-old got Blue Jays No. 14 prospect Harold Ramirez to ground out to shortstop to wrap up the win.
"I think everything started to click as the game kept going on," Conlon said. "I was able to mix speeds and throw all my pitches for strikes. When I'm doing that, I think it's tough for the hitters to be able to sit on a pitch, especially if I'm jumping out ahead."
The dominant outing represented a turnaround for the University of San Diego product after the Fisher Cats roughed him up for five runs on nine hits and a pair of walks over 3 1/3 frames six days earlier.
Conlon, who has focused this season on changing his mechanics to work toward the plate and pitch less open, said he decided in the days between outings to worry less about his motion on the mound.
"I think I was thinking about mechanics too much during the game my last couple outings, so this whole week leading up to this start I was telling myself whenever I got to the mound to just not worry about all the technical stuff and go throw," the 2015 13th-round pick said. "I haven't really been able to get ahead of guys early the last couple of starts, so that was my main goal coming into this one. I was able to execute it pretty well."
Conlon pitched 10 innings in a game for Class A Columbia last season but had never thrown a complete game as a pro. The native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, said it was a unique feeling to finally go the distance.
"Everyone always teased me last year, throwing 10 innings but not having a complete game," he said with a laugh. "I got the last out and I started walking toward the dugout and I kind of realized, 'Oh, that's game over.' I hadn't done that before since college. It's definitely a good feeling to finish the game out and be able to have a performance like that."
Kevin Kaczmarski ripped a three-run triple, while Cody Decker slugged a two-run homer to power Binghamton's offense.
Alonzo Gonzalez (0-3) surrendered four runs on a hit and three walks while recording one out for New Hampshire to take the loss. Starter Chris Rowley worked four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and fanning four.
The Fisher Cats took the opener, 4-2, behind a three-run homer from McBroom.