Schultz serves up six hitless frames

BayBears' Belza singles in eighth to break up Biscuits no-hit bid

Jaime Schultz has allowed three runs over 14 2/3 innings in his first three starts of the year. (MLB.com)

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com | April 21, 2015 2:10 AM

In a contest that saw the Biscuits score 16 runs on 14 hits, it might be easy to overlook the job their pitchers did on the mound.

But for the first two-thirds of Monday night's game, it was Montgomery starter Jaime Schultz that was holding the attention of almost 2,000 fans at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.

Schultz (1-0) worked six hitless innings and 2012 fifth-rounder Mark Sappington carried the no-no into the eighth in the Double-A Biscuits' 16-1 rout of the BayBears.

Schultz exited having thrown 54 of 88 pitches for strikes and issuing three walks. Sappington worked around a seventh-inning free pass to take Montgomery's third potential no-no into the eighth, but Tom Belza hit a sinking line drive to left field to lead off the inning that dropped inches short of diving Tyler Goeddel's glove.

"I was doing my arm care in the trainer's room and watching it on TV," Schultz said of the base hit. "It was a little flair. I thought [Goeddel] was going to get it, he made a great effort, but it was actually a relief. Just to get that hit out of the way was a relief because now you can just focus on winning the game. It was disappointing, but everyone pitched well and that was all you could ask for."

Belza came around to score when shortstop Daniel Robertson misplayed what could have been an inning-ending double-play ball, but Sappington retired the final two batters of the inning to limit the damage. Zach Cooper worked a perfect ninth to seal the victory.

There have been two previous no-hitters in Montgomery history. Tyler Moore accomplished the feat on June 16, 2011, and Victor Mateo replicated the no-no on Aug. 24, 2013. While Schultz wasn't able to add his name to the list, he was pleased with the growth he has made in the first two weeks of the season.

Selected in the 14th round of the 2013 Draft, Schultz allowed two runs on five hits and a pair of free passes over 4 2/3 innings on Opening Day in his Southern League debut against Chattanooga and he yielded one run on three hits and four walks over four frames on Wednesday in Jacksonville.

The 23-year-old right-hander was more efficient Monday night, surrendering just a pair of two-out walks in the second inning and another free pass in the third that was erased on an inning-ending double play. Schultz retired the final 10 batters he faced, including striking out six consecutive hitters.

"This was definitely my best," said Schultz, ranking the performance among his other 32 Minor League appearances. "I've never thrown a no-hitter in my professional career and I've never gone seven innings, so to go six and put myself in a position where I could go back out if I needed to was great.

"I just feel like I made a big improvement from my last two outings. I wasn't able to get past the fourth in either of the last two, so I've been working with my pitching coach [R.C. Lichtenstein]. Development-wise, this was a big jump."

The Albany, New York native went 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts between Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte last year and was 1-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 17 short-season appearances for Hudson Valley in his rookie season in 2013.

Schultz said he did not expect to come back out to pitch the seventh despite the no-hitter being intact because the Rays tend to keep pitchers around the 90-pitch limit for the first month of the season.

"I tried to stay in there, but the guys are doing what is best for us," said Schultz, who threw four seven-inning no-hitters in high school. "They know best. I can't just go out there in a game early in the season and blow out everything I have.

"I was actually a little bit tired because we had a long bus ride [seven hours from Jacksonville] last night. I told my trainer I didn't feel too good, but after the second inning, I felt like I had some stuff."

Goeddel went 3-for-3 with a pair of triples, three RBIs and three runs scored and designated hitter Johnny Field slugged an eighth-inning grand slam off infielder Gerson Montilla, who yielded seven straight singles to start the inning before Field took him deep.

Mobile starter Andrew Barbosa (0-1) allowed five runs on three hits and three walks over two-thirds of an inning.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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