Stefan, BlueClaws bullpen hurl no-hitter
It only took four starts for Jeb Stefan to make BlueClaws' history.
The Phillies prospect threw six hitless innings, Ramon Oviedo delivered two perfect frames and Chris Burgess closed out the fourth no-no in Class A Lakewood's 13-year history for a 1-0 victory over Rome.
Stefan (3-4) struck out five and walked four for the BlueClaws, facing four over the minimum. The 23-year-old right-hander got better as he went deeper into the game, retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced.
"It was a close game and I was trying to throw strikes and get people out just to keep us in the ballgame," Stefan said. "I was just trying to get ahead with the fastball and keep them off balance with the change-up. Chace Numata, behind the plate, I trusted him. Whatever he put down, I tried to execute for him."
It was just the fourth start the Louisiana native made for the BlueClaws this season as he's worked mostly out of the bullpen. The 22nd-round pick in the 2012 Draft is 3-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 26 games.
Oviedo made his Lakewood season debut count, fanning four over his two flawless frames.
"Oviedo came in and threw strikes with his fastball. He was really good out of the 'pen tonight," Stefan said. "I played with him last year a little bit, and I was hoping he would keep it going."
Burgess followed and walked one in the ninth for his second save. For Burgess, it was almost like deja vu.
"Funny enough, I just got called up from Williamsport and we were in a no-hitter two weeks ago," Burgess said. "We had a no-hitter going into the ninth. I didn't throw in that game, and one of our left-handed pitchers gave up a two-out homer to break up the no-hitter."
Witnessing that bid end that late in the game proved to be a good primer for the Oklahoma Christian University product.
"After I saw that go down the drain, I saw how the emotions took over with that pitcher," the 22-year-old right-hander said. "Obviously, you know the situation going into it. You see all the innings and hear fans start saying things, so you know the magnitude of it.
"There's a little bit of pressure on you. But at the same time, once I'm on the mound I'm 60 feet away. It's just another game. I have to stick with what I know and not try to get too big in the situation. That's just how I prepared for it."
Thursday's no-hitter came almost seven years after the last one, when Carlos Carrasco and Adam Barb combined in a nine-inning effort on Aug. 13, 2006.
"Credit to the team, my defense and my hitters," Burgess said. "Jeb threw six no-hit innings, which is awesome. Ramon came in and threw two lights-out innings and handed the ball off to me. It's just one of those things that I don't think I'll ever forget."
Carlo Tocci's fourth-inning sacrifice fly plated Jonathan Roof with the game's only run.
Jason Hursh, the Braves' first-round pick last month, gave up three hits over two scoreless innings but did not figure into the decision for Rome. Frank Lafreniere fell to 4-7 after yielding a run on three hits over two frames.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich