T.J. Zeuch did something the Triple-A Bisons hadn't seen since Bartolo Colon on June 20, 1997. He went the distance in a nine-inning no-hitter ... and he wasn't even aware of it for a split-second.
"I actually forgot it was the third out," the 6-foot-7 right-hander laughed. "Then I saw (first baseman) Jordan Patterson throw his hands up and I immediately turned to my catcher and gave him a big hug."
Video: Bisons' Zeuch fields final out
Zeuch (4-2) struck out three, walked one and hit a batter while racking up the milestone as Buffalo defeated Rochester, 3-0, at Frontier Field.
Toronto's No. 17 prospect retired the first eight batters before issuing a walk to Mike Miller with two outs in the third inning. A flyout off the bat of Ian Miller finished the frame.
Zeuch was perfect over the next 4 2/3 innings before plunking Zander Wiel in the eighth. The 21st overall pick in the 2016 Draft induced a flyout to center field by Ronald Torreyes to end the frame.
Gameday box score
Already at a high pitch count, he was still certain his coaches would allow him to try to complete the job.
"I didn't have any doubt," Zeuch said. "I kind of had the feeling that as long as I had the no-hitter going that they were going to let me keep going."
It might have help that out of the 114 pitches he threw, 73 were strikes. In fact, the University of Pittsburgh product didn't feel like he had thrown that many.
2019 Minor League milestones
"I felt like I was pretty efficient through the whole game, minus a couple of hiccups here and there with the walk and hit batter. I was feeling good," Zeuch said. "Obviously I'm exhausted now, but I'm grateful that they let me go back out and try and finish it."
He didn't cop to any of the nerves that can strike a pitcher entering the ninth with a milestone in reach, even though Zeuch was aware of his bid for history.
"I tried not to focus on it," he said. "Around the sixth or seventh inning, I just sat in the dugout and started telling myself, 'Three more outs. After the next inning, just go get three more outs.'"
With one down in the ninth, center fielder Jonathan Davis made a diving catch on a line drive by Ian Miller to keep the effort going. Zeuch was certain Davis was going to make the catch, although he did have a brief moment of doubt when the ball initially was hit.
Video: Buffalo's Davis saves the day
"Off the bat, I thought it was going to drop, and then when I turned around and saw him sprinting in, I knew he was going to catch it because he makes unbelievable catches like that on a routine basis," the 24-year-old said. "The minute I saw his eyes light up, I knew it was going to get caught."
Zeuch ended the game by fielding a ground ball off the bat of Drew Maggi, tossing to Patterson before getting mobbed by his teammates.
When was the last time that he had thrown a no-hitter?
"I think I was about 12 years old, so I don't think that really counts," he said.
And the fact that he was the first Buffalo hurler to rack up the milestone since Colon made it even sweeter for the Ohio native.
"That's pretty awesome company to be in," he admitted.
Speaking of good company, Zeuch's batterymate was Beau Taylor, who was claimed off waivers from Oakland on Friday. The catcher had never seen him pitch before.
2019 MiLB include
"He did a great job back there calling pitches," Zeuch said. "Unbelievable amount of credit to him back there along with the entire infield and outfield. I couldn't have done it without them, and I wouldn't want to be on the mound with any different guys behind me."
The righty sports a 3.84 ERA with 35 strikeouts over 68 innings in the International League. After his promotion from Class A Advanced Dunedin on June 22, he ran into some "unacceptable" command issues. But Buffalo pitching coach Doug Mathis helped Zeuch get themk straightened out.
"The biggest thing that we figured out was that I was cutting everything off," he said. "When I was delivering the ball to home plate, I was almost short-arming it. Obviously, that doesn't allow for very good command. I'm forever grateful for the work and effort that Mathis put in helping me get back to where I want to be."
Another light bulb went off after watching a video of Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright talking about his delivery.
"He said something that stuck with me," Zeuch said. "He said he tries to throw the ball out in front of his face. I said, 'Why not do that on every pitch?' After that, my command went back to where it has been."
Andy Burns, Santiago Espinal and Taylor each drove in a run for Buffalo.