When he was in high school, Robbie Erlin dominated his opponents. He tossed four shutouts, including a 15-strikeout no-hitter, and was considered one of the elite pitching prospects in California.
Three years later, the Rangers prospect is on a similar roll in the Carolina League.
Erlin gave up one hit -- a solo homer -- over seven innings, retiring the final 15 batters he faced Sunday as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans edged the Frederick Keys, 2-1.
It was the third stellar effort in four starts for the 20-year-old left-hander. He limited Lynchburg to one run and one hit over six innings on April 15, then yielded two hits and struck out 10 over seven shutout innings against Potomac on April 25.
"I don't really remember pitching this well," Erlin said. "I can't think back to a certain time where I was playing this good in the Minors. I started pretty well last year out of the bullpen, but this is as well as I have pitched since maybe my senior year of high school."
On Sunday afternoon at BB&T Coastal Field, Erlin's lone mistake was Bobby Stevens' third-inning homer that gave Frederick a short-lived lead.
"It was a mistake," Erlin said. "I got behind him, 1-0, and got into a hitter's count. I wanted to challenge him inside, but he's not going to miss a fastball in that count. It was a good piece of hitting but I also missed my spot."
After that, the 2009 third-round Draft pick was untouchable. He set down the next 15 Keys before turning over a 2-1 lead to the bullpen.
"I knew what the situation was [with the one-hitter], but I was more focused on helping the team get the win," Erlin said. "I was looking to go back out there in the eighth, but the pitching coach told me I was done for the day, and that was fine."
Erlin, a South Atlantic League midseason All-Star at Hickory last season, lowered his ERA to 2.48.
"My success has been more about sequences and game plans than pitches," he said. "Zach Zaneski called a good game behind the plate and we executed.
"We have team meetings and go over the other team's lineup and discuss what works and what doesn't work, things like that. If you have a good plan of attack and get ahead early, you will have success no matter what league you are pitching in."
Venezuelan southpaw Joseph Ortiz worked the final two innings to record his first Carolina League save.