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Rios, Crosscutters score rare no-no

Three Williamsport pitchers combine on team's third no-hitter
August 18, 2013

That, kids, is how it's done.

A 10-minute drive from the Little League World Series complex, Yacksel Rios, Mark Meadors and Manny Martinez made New York-Penn League history for short-season Williamsport on Sunday by combining to no-hit Mahoning Valley in an 8-0 victory.

The no-hitter was the first in the New York-Penn League this season and the first for Williamsport since Henry Cabrera and Olivo Astacio combined to no-hit Batavia on Sep. 6, 2006. It was also the third no-hitter in Crosscutters history.

Rios, a 2011 12th-round pick by Philadelphia, struck out six and walked three over his five innings. The 20-year-old was making his seventh start of the season, and he improved his record to 4-2 while slimming his ERA to 4.26.

"I felt very excited and nervous all the way," the Puerto Rican Rios said via translator/manager Nelson Prada. "After I left the game, I was just nervous all the way through the ninth inning."

The right-hander retired seven of the first eight batters he faced. Only one Scrapper advanced beyond first base against Rios -- Martin Cervenka walked in the third and moved to second on a balk, but was stranded there. Rios struck out a pair of hitters in the fourth, and he worked around a one-out walk to finish the fifth with the bid intact.

Rios' fastball is generally in the 88- to 92-mph range, according to pitching coach Les Lancaster. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound hurler showed progress in his development Sunday.

"He's a young pitcher, and we really put him in the rotation to get some experience and work on his secondary pitches," Lancaster said. "He threw some good sliders tonight with some changeups. He has a good arm, a sneaky fastball that hitters don't see real well."

Meadors relieved Rios and went three innings -- the longest outing of his career. He retired the first six batters he faced, and the only hitter to reach against him was Paul Hendrix, who made it to first on a missed catching error by first baseman Sam Dove to lead off the eighth.

The right-hander struck out Josh McAdams in the next at-bat, and after inducing a fielder's choice groundout from Cervenka, he fanned Juan Romero to complete his outing.

"He's a control pitcher," Lancaster said of Meadors. "When his mechanics and his arm slot are right, he gets his fastball down with movement and good sink. He has a plus sinker and he's able to mix in his slider. He worked ahead in counts."

Martinez, a right-handed reliever who recently dropped to a sidearm delivery, entered in the ninth with three right-handed hitters due up. Leadoff man Joel Mejia promptly flew out to center field and Claudio Bautista broke his bat on a weak flair nabbed by second baseman Andrew Pullin.

Martinez froze James Roberts with an inside fastball for a called third strike to wrap up the feat.

Martinez's fastball has maintained its velocity even as he's dropped his arm angle, and he now brings a fastball in the 93-94 mph range from a slot Lancaster described as just below sidearm.

"That's still a work in progress," Lancaster said. "He's adapted to that pretty well. He's learning to pitch from down there, to mix in a slider, especially to righties. He does a great job with that right now.

"He's going to instructional to work on his arm slot and possibly drop it a little lower. What we've asked him to do for right now, he's done a real good job."

For his part, Martinez was just happy to be a part of a historic day in Williamsport.

"I'm very happy," he said through Prada. "I give all the credit to Rios and Meadors because they put me in that situation to just throw one inning. To have the opportunity to throw in a no-hitter, I'm very happy about that."

Jake Seiner is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner.