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Stephens, Blue Wahoos no-hit Suns

Reds prospect goes five; Magill, Gonzalez finish seven-inning gem
May 20, 2016

Jackson Stephens will never know what might've happened if he got to finish his start on Friday. He's just glad he has something to celebrate with his teammates.

The 22-year-old right-hander combined with Matt Magill and Carlos Gonzalez on a seven-inning no-hitter as Double-A Pensacola beat Jacksonville, 6-0, to earn a split of its doubleheader at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Stephens (3-3) walked two and fanned two over five innings. Magill struck out the side in the sixth and Gonzalez finished the second no-hitter in team history with a perfect seventh.

"It was pretty exciting," said Stephens, the Reds' 18th-round pick in the 2012 Draft. "Everybody was happy. I know if I can just do what I can do and let my bullpen finish the rest, good things will happen."

Stephens had to work around a pair of errors in addition to the walks, but he induced eight ground-ball outs to keep the Suns off the scoreboard.

"I wasn't really paying any attention to the no-hitter, I just didn't want the guys to score," he said. "I knew I needed to make the pitches. I felt like I had a good fastball tonight. Curveball was OK and [the] slider came in play well in the end. The fastball-changeup combination also really helped in keeping the hitters off-balance."

Stephens threw 82 pitches after averaging about 87 in his first seven starts. 

"I was surprised when I was out, absolutely," he said. "But it's not my job to ask and it's not something you can control. I felt like my stuff was there and I would've had a good chance at finishing it, but we'll never know. I'm just happy that we, as a team, got a no-hitter because that's pretty neat.

"I knew the bullpen behind me is pretty good, so I had absolutely100 percent faith that they were going to get the job done."

Magill followed Stephens to the mound, but he said he didn't know what was on the line when he came out of the bullpen.

"I had no idea it was happening until I came in the dugout after my inning," the 26-year-old right-hander said. "No one said anything to me, I just went out there pitching. I was just worried about helping my team win and put a good inning out there, and I was fortunate enough to strike out the side."

Magill, who's in his first season after returning from Tommy John surgery, needed only 17 pitches to punch out Francisco Arcia, Yefri Perez and Marlins No. 10 prospect J.T. Riddle.

"It was great to be able to come back and be able to pitch in a game like this," said Magill, who was part of his first no-hitter. "It's historic for this league and this team." 

It was the Blue Wahoos' first no-hitter since Daniel Corcino and Wilkin De La Rosa combined on a nine-inning gem against Mobile on June 16, 2012.

Both Stephens and Magill said they were confident history would repeat itself when Gonzalez took over in the seventh.

"I knew from the get-go that it would happen," Stephens said. "Gonzo has been pitching really well and I just thought we got a really good shot at doing this if he just does his thing."

"We knew after the first out it was going to happen," Magill added. "He's been solid all year and we knew the two fly balls at the end were going to be in the park because all of our outfielders have been really good."

Gonzalez, who recalled throwing a no-hitter when he was in Little League, said the experience on Friday doesn't compare.

"This is awesome," the 25-year-old right-hander said. "Doing this against professional hitters, against guys who have good approaches and know what they are doing, it's pretty awesome."

For Stephens, the outing lowered his ERA to 3.79 after he gave up six runs over 11 innings in his previous two starts.

"I haven't pitched unbelievably great like I wanted to, but at the same time, I feel like I'm getting there," he said. "I've been throwing a lot of strikes, but just timely hitting against me and pitch selection at times has got me. I just know when I can click and figure it out and get in the zone, I'll be pretty good."

Bryson Smith staked Stephens to a lead in the third with a two-run triple and Reds No. 8 prospect Alex Blandino added a two-run single in the seventh.

Michael Peng is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng