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Nashville trio combines on no-hitter

Villanueva, Meyers, Zumwalt blank Redbirds, 2-0
July 15, 2006
Carlos Villanueva, Mike Meyers and Alec Zumwalt combined on the fifth no-hitter in team history on Saturday night as the Nashville Sounds blanked the Memphis Redbirds, 2-0, at Greer Stadium.

In his first Triple-A start, Villanueva (1-0) struck out six and walked three over six innings. After throwing 86 pitches, the 22-year-old right-hander knew he was going to be taken out, despite some objections by veteran catcher Chad Moeller.

"I've never seen (a no-hitter) in person before," said Villanueva, who did not realize he was part of one until he looked at the scoreboard in the fifth. "It wasn't brought up (by teammates)."

Meyers struck out three in two perfect innings, also unaware of the no-hitter until after he exited and pitcher Justin Lehr mentioned it.

"(Not knowing) takes the pressure off," said Meyers, adding that finding out was "kind of a shock."

It was no shock to Zumwalt, who was fully conscious of being part of history in the making.

"My nerves started kicking in in the seventh," the 25-year-old closer said. "My back was against the wall."

Using fastballs and sliders to record his eighth save, Zumwalt struck out Brian Martin and got former Major Leaguer Junior Spivey to ground out before Jason Conti struck out on a checked swing on a 2-2 count.

"That's just the situation you just dream of," Zumwalt said.

The trio combined to retire the final 16 batters en route to the Sounds' first no-hitter since John Wasdin pitched a perfect game against Albuquerque on April 7, 2003.

Nashville's pitching staff leads the Pacific Coast League with a 3.30 ERA and 10 shutouts.

"The pitching was just untouchable today, obviously," said Moeller, who joined the Sounds earlier this week. "I met (Meyers) before the game."

Villanueva started the season with Double-A Huntsville, then bypassed Triple-A as he appeared in six games with the Milwaukee Brewers. He made his PCL debut on July 9, tossing a scoreless inning against Round Rock.

It was the second combined no-hitter in the PCL this season. On June 9, Portland's Ryan Meaux, Aquilino Lopez and Cla Meredith tossed a perfect game against the Sacramento River Cats in the nightcap of a doubleheader.

The Sounds (50-42) never trailed in this one after Nelson Cruz delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the first. Brent Abernathy provided a little insurance with a solo homer in the sixth off starter Chris Narveson (4-3).

The Redbirds (38-54) had their best scoring chance in the third. Skip Schumaker drew a leadoff walk, moved into scoring position on a sacrifice by Narveson and took third when Spivey flied out. But Villanueva struck out Conti to get out of the jam.

Rico Washington and Timo Perez also walked for Memphis, which ranks last in the PCL with a .237 team batting average.

Marissa Rega is a contributor to