MIDLAND, MI - The Great Lakes Loons (5-6, 39-42) took a no-hit bid through 7.2 innings Monday night at Dow Diamond en route to a 1-0 shutout win against the West Michigan Whitecaps (6-5, 42-39).
Loons starter Raydel Sanchez set the tone from the start, pitching seven hitless innings and not allowing a man on base until the fifth. The right-handed pitcher said he expected a good start going into the contest, only his second start of the season.
"When I started, I felt I was going to have a really good game," Sanchez said. "I really didn't look at or pay attention to [the no-hit situation] until the last inning I was out there. I thought, 'Wow, I'm throwing a no-hitter.' That's when I really noticed."
Part of his confidence came from adding a new pitch, the change-up, to his arsenal and having in-game success with it.
"It was a special day to see him continue to have tremendous confidence," Loons pitching coach Hector Berrios said after the performance. "We have been working on incorporating his change-up and today he threw quite a lot of those, especially with a line-up that has so many left-handers. He wasn't afraid to throw that change-up...he was just very confident with all his pitches tonight."
Berrios said that his health came into the decision to pull him from the game in the top of the eighth, having already tossed 10 more pitches than he planned. Sanchez finished with 86 pitches, 50 going for strikes. He picked up his second win of the season and first as a starter, finishing with two walks and four strikeouts through seven innings of work.
Reliever Mike Thomas recorded two outs before the no-hitter ended as Loons center fielder James Baldwin laid out for a fly ball in the outfield that fell in for a hit. The Whitecaps connected for their only other hit in the next at-bat. Thomas finished the inning with a strikeout and Yimi Garcia came in to collect the save, his 12th. Baldwin completed a sterling diving catch in the ninth for out two.
The Loons grabbed their lone run in the third inning when Pedro Guerrero knocked a double to centerfield that scored Pratt Maynard, who led-off with a single and advanced to second on a resourceful sac-bunt by Jeff Hunt.