For a 30th-round Draft pick who spent most of his college career playing first base, Craig Westcott is adjusting pretty well to pitching in the Minor Leagues.
The 23-year-old right-hander combined with two relievers on the first no-hitter in Salem-Keizer history Saturday night as the Volcanoes blanked the Everett AquaSox, 8-0, in front of 2,337 fans at Everett Memorial Stadium.
"It's an honor [to be a part of this]," Westcott said. "First of all, our defense played unbelievable and the offense hit the ball real good. Our catcher, Aaron Lowenstein, called a great game and I just threw."
Westcott (2-0), selected by San Francisco with the 897th overall pick in this year's Draft out of Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss., went 4-0 with an 0.69 ERA in seven relief outings for the Arizona League Giants before making the jump to the Northwest League late last month.
"This is really my first year pitching," admitted Westcott, who was a two-way star in his final season at Belhaven. "They thought that [pitching] was my future. I'm mainly just going out and throwing strikes. That's the whole object of pitching."
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Louisiana native yielded six runs on 16 hits with 24 strikeouts and five walks over 15 1/3 innings in his first four starts for the Volcanoes before putting forth the best effort of his brief career Saturday.
Westcott struck out six, walked two and hit a batter before turning the game over to Brandon Graves, who fanned one in a perfect sixth.
Wilber Bucardo, who earned Northwest League Pitcher of the Week honors in June, walked one and struck out two over the final three frames for his first save of the season as the Volcanoes celebrated their historic achievement.
"[Bucardo] started the year pretty much as our No. 1 guy but had a problem with his hand or wrist and was on the [disabled list] before pitching in relief," revealed Salem-Keizer manager and former big league skipper Tom Trebelhorn.
"He threw the best that he has thrown since coming off the DL."
The no-hitter appeared to be broken up with two outs in the eighth when Matthew Cerione hit a slow roller up the middle that shortstop Ryan Cavan fielded before making a wild throw to first.
Originally ruled an infield single, the decision was quickly overturned, preserving the Volcanoes' bid for history.
"Tough play. Difficult play," Trebelhorn noted. "Probably if they had a few hits already, they would have ruled it a hit. I think it would have been a controversial hit. But in the context of a normal game, they might have given him one."
Bucardo responded to the break by getting Ben Billingsley on a grounder to second to end the eighth. The 21-year-old Nicaraguan right-hander pitched around the Volcanoes' second error of the evening in the ninth to complete the first Northwest League no-hitter since Vancouver's Bradley Hertzler fired a five-inning gem against Spokane on July 18, 2007.
It was the circuit's first nine-inning no-no since Spokane's Gregory Atencio and Justin Taylor combined to beat Yakima on Sept. 3, 2002.
Chris Dominguez and Lowenstein each had two hits and two RBIs for the Volcanoes, who moved five games in front of second-place Everett for the West Division lead.
"These guys have been nipping at our heels all year," Trebelhorn said. "It was a big series for us. It was a great team effort."