Scott Copeland left the mound in the seventh inning, knowing full well what was going on. That he didn't get a chance to complete the gem he was crafting on the diamond was an unfortunate byproduct of several factors. But the 29-year-old has been around baseball long enough to know some things take precedence over personal accomplishments.
Copeland faced the minimum over seven no-hit innings Friday night as Triple-A New Orleans pitched the Pacific Coast League's first no-hitter in nearly three years, defeating Iowa, 11-1, at Principal Park.
Hunter Cervenka and Brandon Cunniff finished off the Baby Cakes' first no-no since May 6, 2001 when they were known as the Zephyrs and affiliated with the Houston Astros.
"I was a little disappointed not to finish it off," Copeland said. "But it is what it is. The main goal is getting the job done for the team. That's what we did and that's good."
Video: New Orleans' Cunniff completes no-hitter
The right-hander from Texas retired the first 13 batters, striking out seven. He walked Cubs No. 4 prospect Jeimer Candelario with one out in the fifth but quickly ended the inning by getting No. 12 prospect Victor Caratini to bounce into a double play. Copeland (1-1) set down the last six Cubs he faced, leaving the mound after fanning eight and throwing 44 of 63 pitches for strikes.
"They were really aggressive up there," the University of Southern Mississippi product said. "I wanted to get ahead as much as I could so I wouldn't have to just lay it in there, and that's what I did. My sinker was working really well tonight, so that helped a lot.
"I felt really great out there. I've had a few outings like this in the past few years when I was with [Triple-A] Buffalo. I was aggressive and my defense played well behind me."
Copeland was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth when the Baby Cakes sent 11 men to the plate and broke the game open with seven runs. Matt den Dekker provided the big blow with a three-run homer to center, his second roundtripper of the season.
Pacific Coast League no-hitters
Cervenka kept the no-hitter intact in the eighth, despite issuing a pair of walks and a pair of errors behind him that produced an unearned run. Cunniff fanned two in a perfect ninth to complete the PCL's 146th no-hitter and the league's first since May 7, 2014, when coincidentally, Iowa beat New Orleans.
"No one really said anything to me about it," Copeland said. "I pretty much knew what was going on, but I just needed to go out there and throw strikes and get guys out. That's my job.
"I was watching on the television monitor in the clubhouse after I left the game. They did a great job to finish it off."
2017 Minor League milestones
Matt Juengel hit a three-run homer to left-center field in the second inning and went 3-for-4 for New Orleans. Peter Mooney drove in three runs and pinch-hitter Isaac Galloway contributed a two-run single.
Cubs No. 20 prospect Felix Pena struck out two in an inning of perfect relief for Iowa.