Matt Wisler admitted something most professional pitchers would never acknowledge in his situation: He knew he was pitching a no-hitter, and he let that thought get the best of him.
The Padres prospect had made it through six innings without surrendering a hit Saturday night when he realized what was at his fingertips.
"After the fourth or fifth, I knew what was going on pretty much," Wisler said. "But after we got two runs [in the top of the seventh], I started thinking that a no-hitter was really possible. Then I got a little too excited and let the adrenaline get the best of me a little bit."
To begin the bottom of the seventh against South Bend -- with that adrenaline flowing -- the 19-year-old right-hander walked Tom Belza. He struck out Matt Helm but gave up an infield hit to Marc Bourgeois, who just beat third baseman Duanel Jones' throw to first.
Wisler exited following the Silver Hawks' first hit, and reliever James Needy surrendered an RBI single to Ryan Court. Fort Wayne ended up dropping a 3-2, 11-inning decision to South Bend.
But it was Bourgeois' single that Wisler found most disheartening after the game.
"I thought I made a pretty good pitch," he said. "But he got a piece of it for a weak infield single. I thought [Jones] made a nice play on it, too, and it was pretty close at first, but they called him safe. ... It's kinda disappointing, but it was a tough play and a tough call."
As frustrating as the lone hit might have been, the Ohio native called Saturday's outing "definitely" the best of his first full season in pro ball after being selected in the seventh round of the 2011 Draft. In fact, it's only the latest in a string of solid starts by Wisler, who was charged with one run on one hit and two walks with six strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.
After going 0-3 with a 4.12 ERA in five April appearances, including four starts, he's 3-1 with a 1.85 ERA in his last 11 starts. Since May 27, he's allowed one run or fewer in six of seven outings.
The improved results coincide with a change in mind-set, Wisler said.
"It's been a blast so far," he added. "My first month didn't go so great, but I didn't have too much experience up here, so that's going to happen. But ever since May, I've been gaining more and more confidence."
Of course, the trick is to maintain that level of production over the final two months of the season, a notion the teenager embraces.
"Hopefully, I want to do something like this every night," Wisler said. "Then again, I know I need to keep working and just develop as much as I can."
Helm finished 2-for-4 with a homer, double and two runs scored for the Silver Hawks, who walked off with the win on Eric Groff's two-out single in the 11th.
South Bend starter Tyler Green allowed two runs on three hits and three walks over a career-high eight innings.