There was Daniel Corcino, a walking, talking -- and pitching -- oxymoron: Dirt stains stretching from his uniform pant leg up to his chest and sweat dripping from his brow. He was finishing the cleanest outing of his pro career on an 84-degree Saturday night in Pensacola, yet he was very, very dirty.
That was because Corcino accomplished something earlier in the evening that his opposition failed to: He got a hit.
The Reds' top pitching prospect held down the visiting Mobile BayBears for eight innings and lefty reliever Wilkin De La Rosa worked the ninth to seal the 68-game-old franchise's first no-hitter. Oh, and a 6-0 victory.
The Corcino-De La Rosa effort marked the eighth no-hitter -- each the work of a tag team -- in the Minors this season. One other fact: The last Southern League no-hitter occurred exactly one year ago when the BayBears were quieted by then-Montgomery ace Matt Moore.
After his second hit of the season, a leadoff single in third, Corcino advanced to second and slid into third -- two more small successes that the BayBears didn't sniff. On the mound, Corcino issued two-out walks to Yazy Arbelo and Ed Easley in the second and fifth frames, respectively, but was otherwise perfect. The 21-year-old right-hander had thrown 78 pitches through six frames and required 20 more to pitch around a leadoff walk to Matt Davidson and strike out the side in the seventh.
In the eighth, he threw 12 more pitches, bringing his total to 110. The 24th out was pinch-hitter Wladimir Sutil, who worked the count to 3-0 before becoming Corcino's ninth victim on strikes, matching a season high. He also recorded nine outs on the ground and five in the air.
Corcino was at his best, and he knew it. He wanted to finish what he started.
"It's incredible," Corcino told pnj.com. "It's my first time to throw eight innings, but I know I can keep going and maybe next time, you know, I can finish."
That's why he was standing atop the dugout steps -- helmet on -- when his spot in the batting order neared in the bottom of the eighth. When manager Jim Riggleman followed organizational protocol and inserted Josh Fellhauer in Corcino's slot, the vociferous few among the 5,038 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium started to boo.
"No, not really, it wasn't hard at all. It's the guidelines," Riggleman told the website, noting Corcino is slated to pitch in next week's Southern League All-Star Game. "Maybe if anything, I should have taken him out after seven. But we were not going to let him go past 110 (pitches)."
Fellhauer singled and scored during the ensuing three-run rally.
For his part, De La Rosa elicited cheers. He required 26 pitches and issued a fourth Blue Wahoos walk but also struck out the side in the ninth. After striking out Marc Krauss to end the game, De La Rosa threw his glove into the air, then hugged his fellow Dominican Republic native who started the run at history. Corcino came out of the pile of players with the baseball in hand.
In his first Double-A season, Corcino (3-4) was 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA in his previous six starts. And in a dozen prior appearances this year, he had not advanced into the seventh inning. He ended up eclipsing his single-game career high in innings after going seven three times with Class A Dayton last season.
Still, Corcino features a mid-90s fastball to go with his slider and changeup. And this is the same pitcher who, before his recent slide, went 2-0 while allowing only six hits over 11 1/3 scoreless frames against Jacksonville on April 27 and Jackson on May 3.
A non-drafted free agent who signed with Cincinnati in January 2008, Corcino lowered his ERA to 3.34 and has a 69-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 70 innings with the Blue Wahoos.
De La Rosa, too, was right for the assignment. Pitching in his sixth season after five as an outfielder, the 27-year-old entered with a 1.31 ERA in 19 games since an April 23 promotion from Class A Advanced Bakersfield. This is his first year in the Reds organization.
The Blue Wahoos scored their lone run off BayBears starter David Holmberg in the fifth when No. 4 Reds prospect Didi Gregorious tripled and came home two batters latter on Joel Guzman's two-out single.
David Vidal also plated Gregorious with a two-run homer in the seventh off reliever Bryan Henry.
Holmberg, the D-backs' No. 7 prospect, yielded six hits and a walk while striking out six over five innings. After two Double-A starts, he's 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA.