Two weeks before leaving for the instructional league, West Virginia's Zack Von Rosenberg could not have asked for more than what he so deftly pursued in his final regular-season start.
The Pirates' No. 10 prospect pitched six perfect innings Friday as the Class A Power came within one out of a no-hitter before settling for a 6-2 victory over the Delmarva Shorebirds.
"It was everything that I have learned this season, it culiminated in this outing," Von Rosenberg said. "I never allowed them to get comfortable and I was able to do it for six innings. The whole outing, I was in a rhythm."
Von Rosenberg (5-9) struck out the side in the third and fanned six overall. Only three of the 18 batters he faced managed to send the ball beyond the infield dirt.
"The changeup was my best pitch," he said. "It opened up my fastball, allowed me to bust guys in, to not allow them sit dead-red. They had mostly defensive swings."
Zachary Fuesser entered in the seventh and induced John Ruettiger's ground out before walking Michael Mooney. That left the no-hit bid intact until the bottom of the ninth.
"It was serious anticipation," Von Rosenberg said. "It was kind of ironic: Rudy Ruettiger's nephew getting the first hit of game."
Attempting to secure the final out, Fuesser yielded John Ruettiger's single into left field and Mooney's two-run blast. It was his second homer in 144 Minor League games and first since June 30, 2009.
The reaction in the dugout?
"Everybody wanted it, but it was relief," Von Rosenberg said. "It was by far the best of game of the year, offense and defense."
A 2009 sixth-round Draft pick, the Louisiana native credited second baseman Andy Vazquez, who made strong plays for both starter and reliever.
"Guys are gonna get hits, it happens," Von Rosenberg said. "I could have easily given up three hits. Guys were playing great defense."
The 20-year-old right-hander is no stranger to holding his opponent down deep into games. On July 20, he retired the first 17 Savannah batters before giving up a single to Alonzo Harris.
Friday's effort reduced his ERA to 5.76, the lowest it's been since he carried a 5.40 mark after his first two outings of the season.
Von Rosenberg compiled a 3.91 ERA and struck out 26 over 25 1/3 innings in August and began September on an even stronger note.
How bad did he want to see his last start through?
"I was disappointed," said Von Rosenberg, who was on both a pitch and innings count. He ended up throwing 125 2/3 frames, a year after completing 59. "But they're trying to protect our arms. I understand it from [the Pirates'] perspective."
Fuesser, who also allowed Jacob Julius' single before recording the final out, picked up his third save.
Chase Lyles drove in two runs and Elias Diaz went 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Power.
Shorebirds starter Parker Bridwell (0-3) was roughed up for four runs on six hits and five walks over 4 2/3 frames.