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Mike Paredes Leads Mussels to Third No-Hitter in Less Than Nine Months

June 1, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. (May 31, 2022) – Mike Paredes tossed six no-hit innings Tuesday, leading the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels to their third no-hitter in less than nine months in a 5-0 win over the Tampa Tarpons at Hammond Stadium. Paredes set new career-highs in innings and pitches (69), making

FORT MYERS, Fla. (May 31, 2022) – Mike Paredes tossed six no-hit innings Tuesday, leading the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels to their third no-hitter in less than nine months in a 5-0 win over the Tampa Tarpons at Hammond Stadium.

Paredes set new career-highs in innings and pitches (69), making just his fifth career start since being drafted by the Twins in 2021.

“I was just mixing pitches pretty well with Tatum behind the dish, putting down the right fingers at the right times and keeping them off balance,” Paredes said.

The San Diego State product walked Tampa (20-26) hitters in the first and second innings but settled down to retire the final 13 batters he faced. The California native struck out five and finished just one batter over the minimum.

“Just trying to get swings and get the ball in play and let the guys behind me work,” Paredes said. “With the two walks earlier, I knew I just had to come back in the zone.”

Hunter McMahon entered for the final inning, walking the leadoff batter before buckling down. McMahon closed out the Mighty Mussels’ no-hitter on May 10, but was unaware of the circumstances the first time around.

“I knew there was a no-hitter this time,” McMahon said. “Thankfully I knew this time, because I fell behind to Dominguez. I’m not going to give him a cookie, being a little greedy up 5-0.”

After walking Jasson Dominguez, McMahon fanned three consecutive batters to seal the no-hitter in dominating fashion.

Paredes did lobby the Mussels’ coaches to pitch the seventh inning, but the Fort Myers pitching coaches stuck to the plan.

“At this level, we’re about developing them to become Big League pitchers,” Jared Gaynor said. “It’s not worth pushing their pitch counts for the sake of throwing a no-hitter in Low-A. Our goal is for these guys to move up. We’re always worrying about their workload and where they’re building up. I know it’s tough to take a guy out with a no-hitter at 69 pitches, but with where he’s at at this stage of the season, it was the right time to take him out.”

Paredes began the year in the bullpen and had never pitched more than four innings until his last start at Bradenton.

“We had a lot of confidence in Hunter going out there and shutting the door, knowing that he already has one no-no under his belt this year,” Paredes said. “Nothing but confidence in him.”

McMahon leaned on his experience closing out combined no-hitters, having done so on the same mound exactly three weeks earlier.

“For the most part, it’s just another inning,” McMahon said. “Having one under my belt doesn’t hurt.”

McMahon began warming up in the fifth inning and was tossing in the bullpen for about 30 minutes in real time before finally entering the game for three crucial outs.

“Nervous? No,” McMahon said. “It might mess with your rhythm a little bit, getting up and down and not trying to waste too many bullets. Throw a few, cool off, and go with the tempo of the game.”

After the game, the Mussels hummed a familiar tune as to why they were able to pull off the feat for the third time in eight months, crediting their focus on throwing strikes.

“We are always trying to push guys to attack the strike zone,” pitching coach Carlos Hernandez said. “It’s always fun to watch them do their thing. We are here to guide them, but at the end of the day, it’s them making their own decisions out there.”

Hernandez tutored both no-hitters this season, as well as the team’s combined no-no in September of 2021.

“We’ve been trying to get our guys to be aggressive in the zone with all of their stuff,” Tuesday’s catcher Dillon Tatum said. “Mike and Hunter both did a really good job of all of that. They have some good pop in the middle of the order. Hats off to them, they threw a hell of a game.”

Tuesday’s game remained scoreless into the bottom of the fifth.

Tatum sparked the Mussels’ bats with a leadoff single to right field. Dylan Neuse followed with a walk, putting Tatum in scoring position. Then Jake Rucker blistered a double into the right field gap, plating Tatum and Neuse to give Fort Myers a 2-0 lead. Emmanuel Rodriguez followed suit with a line drive double off the center field wall, scoring Rucker from second base to make the score 3-0. Noah Cardenas joined the fun with the Mussels’ third double of the inning, plating Rodriguez to extend Fort Myers’ lead to 4-0. Then Keoni Cavaco struck out on a pitch that got away from Tampa catcher Antonio Gomez. Cardenas hustled home from second on the throw to make the score 5-0.

From there, the pitching did the rest, going just two batters over the minimum for the night. Paredes could have never fathomed the opportunity to start a no-hitter when he spent the entire month of April in the bullpen. But after seven relief outings, his performance earned him a greater opportunity.

“At the beginning of the season, Mike was one of our most reliable relievers,” Gaynor said. “He had started in college. When there was an opening, it just seemed like he was the right man for the job. He has stepped up and we’ve been building him up in the rotation.”

With the Mussels tossing three no-hitters since September, Hernandez noted that any of the Fort Myers relievers could have contributed to these types of performances.

“We have enough arms out there that go out there and execute. Ultimately, our primary goal is to have faith in any guy that goes out there and competes.”

The Mussels will turn to LHP Steve Hajjar (2-1, 2.17) on Wednesday, opposed by RHP Yon Castro (1-2, 3.21) of the Tampa Tarpons. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Mighty Mussels Baseball Network.