Huntsville's David Welch gave himself a birthday present Monday, tossing a no-hitter on the day he turned 25.
Welch struck out six and walked two as the Stars blanked the Chattanooga Lookouts, 2-0, in the second game of a doubleheader at AT&T Field.
The left-hander struck out Daniel Dorn in the seventh inning to complete the second complete-game no-hitter in the Stars' history in the Southern League.
Corey Thurman, Dave Johnson and Luis Pena combined on a postseason no-hitter for Stars last Sept. 7. Tanyon Sturtze pitched Huntsville's other solo no-hitter on June 13, 1993.
Welch won for the fifth time in eight starts to become the Southern League's first seven-game winner. The only downside was being away from his wife and 3-month-old son, Maddox, on his birthday. His family was tracking the game in Texas, though.
"I just thought she's not here so I'm just gonna pitch," Welch said. "I'm kind of out with the boys, but tonight's game made it a special one."
Welch (7-1) was perfect until he walked Chris Valaika with two outs in the sixth inning. The walk drew a reaction from his family.
"[My wife] was over the moon," he said. "But she was mad that I walked a guy and gave up the perfect game. She said 'Dang' and Maddox started laughing. She never heard him laugh before."
Selected in the 20th round of the 2005 Draft by Milwaukee, Welch struck out four of the first seven Lookouts batters and took advantage of their free-swinging lineup.
"You get in a groove. You get that feeling you have everything going when you throw a first-pitch changeup and guys are swinging at it," Welch said.
"Their aggressiveness helped me out a lot," he added. "I was mixing them up a bit with fastball, curveball and changeup."
He allowed only one more baserunner, walking Eric Eymann to start the seventh. But the changeup came through for Welch again, as Eymann was erased on a 6-4-3 double play before Welch fanned Dorn.
"I didn't want to have the tying run at the plate. But the next pitch was a changeup and he hit the ball right to (shortstop) Alcides Escobar," Welch said. "All of a sudden, I'm back in the windup and maybe one pitch away. I'm like 'Oh wow, I've never been here before.' I got ahead of him and he ended up chasing a curveball in the ground."
Welch jumped up in the air, but he still had to wait a few seconds for catcher Carlos Corporan to make the final throw to first base. But the wait was worth it.
"I've never been in the situation where you are one pitch away and one batter away," he said. "I've always been one or two innings away. It still hasn't sunk in yet. I've been close a few times before and it's a great feeling to get it."
The Sydney, Australia native had taken no-hit bids deep into ballgames before, but had never finished one before. While with Brevard County in the Florida State League, he took a perfect game into the eighth last July 26. He also pitched five hitless innings on April 28, 2007.
Matt LaPorta hit his 15th homer to lead off the fourth and Cole Gillespie drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh for the Stars (35-25).
Starter Travis Wood (1-1) yielded one run on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts in six innings for Chattanooga (30-28).
In the first game of the doubleheader, Eymann went 4-for-4 with two RBIs in the Lookouts' 8-6 win.