Fantastic Voyagers combine on no-hitter
When a pitcher takes the mound in the midst of a slump, he's just hoping to come away with something on which to build. Yosmer Solorzano did that, and then some on Saturday night.
The White Sox prospect combined with Adam Panayotovich and Jaider Rocha on the Pioneer League's first no-hitter in five years as Rookie-level Great Falls beat Helena, 2-0, at Centene Stadium at Legion Park.
"Everything kind of clicked for Yosmer tonight," Great Falls pitching coach Matt Zaleski said. "He's had some rough starts, but everything tonight just worked. I wasn't even thinking about the no-hitter. He's had some struggles in the middle of the season and all I was thinking about was that he had a good pace going and that I wanted him to get to 100 pitches or around there before anything could go wrong. Well, nothing went wrong."
Solorzano (6-3) retired his first eight batters before issuing a two-out walk in the third to Trever Morrison, who took second on an errant pickoff attempt. But the 19-year-old right-hander rebounded by striking out Ryan Aguilar.
"We've seen an error turn into a two-run or three-run inning countless times this season," Zaleski said. "He didn't let the error affect him. He just kept going and throwing strikes, which is just what we needed."
The Venezuela native induced thee straight groundouts in a 1-2-3 fourth before striking out the side on 11 pitches in the fifth.
"He was pretty calm as the game was going on," the pitching coach said. "He was still talking with guys as the game went on. It wasn't like when you have a no-hitter going on and guys stay away from you -- he was still chatting with everyone."
Solorzano, who struck out eight and walked one, plunked Joantgel Segovia in the seventh before committing a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Weston Wilson. But he snared Gilbert Lara's comebacker and started a double play before fanning Ronnie Gideon to cap his night.
"It was a liner right back to him and he had a really nice reaction and set his feet to first base and made a quality throw. It was absolutely the biggest play of the game," Zaleski said. "It was a close ballgame and that play was really huge for us."
After throwing 57 of 91 pitches for strikes, Solorzano made way for the bullpen.
"You try not to make it a bigger deal than it is," said Panayotovich, who pitched the eighth. "I knew it was going on. You're sitting in the bullpen and we're all thinking it, but you can't really talk about it. When I was warming up, I just tried to focus on the catcher's glove."
Even if he wasn't feeling the pressure, his pitching coach was feeling it for him.
"The guys coming in from the bullpen, I would have to say, face more pressure in that situation," Zaleski said. "Both bullpen guys did an outstanding job and just attacked hitters."
Panayotovich walked one and fanned two, paving the way for Rocha to complete the Pioneer League's first no-no since Scott Snodgress, Blake Drake, and Robert Dvorsky accomplished the feat for Great Falls on Aug. 18, 2011.
"When a guy gives you everything he has, the only thing we're thinking is we got to get him this no-hitter," Panayotovich said. "I just wanted to do it for Yosmer. We're really good buddies."
Rocha worked around a leadoff walk to nail down the no-hitter before getting mobbed by catcher Carlos Perez.
"Perez called a heck of a game," Panayotovich said. "Talking to [Solorzano, Rocha, and Perez] and hugging them after the game and showing them the tweet from MiLB that it was the first no-hitter since 2011, that was a really cool moment for us."
Aaron Schnurbusch had an RBI groundout and Corey Zangari homered to account for the Voyagers' offense.
Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com.