Saupold stars in Mud Hens' combined no-no
Even though they live on the other side of the world, if Warwick Saupold's parents know there's a chance their son will get into a game, they won't miss it. It's a good thing they were tuned in Saturday.
"My mom and dad watch every game, even if it's at 3 in the morning," the Perth, Australia native said. "If they know I have a chance to pitch, they watch the whole game. They were watching tonight, they're die-hards."
Saupold pitched five innings and combined with Preston Guilmet, Logan Kensing and Bobby Parnell on Triple-A Toledo's first no-hitter in 20 years as the Mud Hens beat Charlotte, 5-0, at Fifth Third Field.
"I've never thrown a no-hitter before, so it was a pretty awesome experience," Saupold said. "I've never even seen one, so it was a pretty different feel going into the ninth without seeing a hit."
Fate always plays a role in no-hitters, but the Mud Hens had some serious divine intervention at work, considering that Saupold wasn't even supposed to start the game. He got the call right before the first pitch after Toledo scratched Matt Boyd.
"I got told about 15 or 20 minutes before the game," Saupold said with a laugh. "The pitching coach [Jeff Pico] just tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Hey, mate, you're going to start today, so whenever you're ready, start getting loose.' Luckily, I was kind of dressed and ready to go."
"I've never been in that situation before. But I still did the same things I would do before every game. I was lucky enough to get my stretching in before they told me. Being in the bullpen all year, you need to be ready to get up pretty quickly, so the short notice didn't matter much. I just went out there and took it one pitch at a time."
After retiring Charlotte in order in the first inning, Saupold hit Jason Coats to open the second. He quickly erased him with a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. The 26-year-old right-hander didn't allow another baserunner, fanning three and throwing 41 of 58 pitches for strikes.
"I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't aware that I hadn't given up a hit," Saupold said. "The scoreboard's pretty big here, so it's hard to not see that. Every inning, I just went out there and tried to get each and every hitter out."
Even though the 6-foot-1 righty was aware of what was unfolding, he said he stayed calm and tried to go pitch-by-pitch to get through the lineup.
"When stuff like this happens, my primary object is to get as deep in the game as I can with as little pitches as possible," he said. "I was just trying to force early contact and keep that pitch count down. And then those three guys, they threw the ball extremely well and Miguel Gonzalez was fantastic behind the plate all game. He knew some of these guys, formerly being with the White Sox, so a lot of the credit goes to him."
Guilmet took over in the sixth and retired all six batters he faced. He handed the no-hit-bid off to Kensing, who worked around a hit batter and a walk in the eighth in his Toledo debut. Parnell pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, getting Carlos Sanchez to ground out to first baseman Jordany Valdespin to set off the celebration.
It was the Mud Hens' first no-hitter since Randy Marshall and Mike Walker combined on a seven-inning gem on Aug. 21, 1996. Jose Lima pitched Toledo's last nine-inning no-hitter on Aug. 17, 1994.
Saupold's achievement is another sign of growth in Australia's up-and-coming baseball scene.
"The game is definitely taking off at home," he said. "It's fun to be a part of and is awesome to see. I'm lucky enough to have played for a successful club like the Perth Heat and win some championships, and it's always fun to go back and play for the national team. All of the boys love to put on the green and gold. We're really big sports nuts in Australia and baseball is just another sport we all can get behind."
The Mud Hens staked Saupold to a lead in the third as Tigers No. 12 prospect Dixon Machado hit a two-run double and scored on another double by Chad Huffman.
Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com.