Biloxi Shuckers left-hander Nick Ramirez breezed through the sixth inning Monday night just as he has for much of the season.
When he walked off the mound and began to take his cleats off in the clubhouse after his one inning of work, Ramirez suddenly realized that he needed to get back to the dugout in a hurry.
“I had no idea we had a no-hitter going,” Ramirez said Monday. “I heard (Shuckers play-by-play man) Chris Harris talking about it on the TV.”
Right-hander Jorge Lopez, the fourth pitcher to take the mound for the Shuckers Monday night, threw a perfect seventh inning to cap off the no-hitter and a 1-0 win over the Tennessee Smokies at MGM Park.
The Smokies won 4-1 in the first game of the Biloxi doubleheader, which featured two-seven inning contests.
Ramirez shrugged off the idea that the no-hitter carried less weight than the typical nine-inning version.
“A home run is a home run and a no-hitter is a no-hitter,” Ramirez said. “They all count the same.”
The winning pitcher in the no-hitter was right-hander Forrest Snow, who lasted the longest in the game with three innings. He struck out four and walked one to improve his record to 5-2.
Hiram Burgos received the start and lasted two innings, striking out two and walking none.
All four pitchers proved efficient on the mound. Of their 88 pitches, 60 were strikes.
There was no huge post-game celebration, but Lopez received a Powerade bath from teammates while he was doing an interview with the radio crew.
The man behind the plate for all seven innings was Dustin Houle, who had just been reinstated from the disabled list prior to the start of the doubleheader.
“It was a great job by Houle,” Ramirez said. “It was his first game back from the D.L. and he was putting down from the right fingers.”
Ramirez was involved in his first no-hitter since throwing a pair of gems in high school.
For Ramirez, Monday's no-hitter was just one more accomplishment in what has been an impressive debut as a professional pitcher. He played first base in his first six seasons as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Ramirez is 6-4 with a 1.07 ERA and two saves in 42 appearances this season. He has 46 strikeouts and 22 walks in 67 1/3 innings.
“I feel like I've had a pretty good season,” Ramirez said. “I'm just striving to get better, day in and day out. I'm just trying to continue to get better and hopefully something good will happen.”
Ramirez has continued to improve as the season has gone along. He has walked just seven batters in his last 23 appearances after occasionally struggling with his control early in the season.
“If you take away the first five or six outings I had, then we'd be talking about something special,” Ramirez said. “It was just something where I was going out there trying to do too much, forgetting how hard it is to hit. I added a new pitch and that made everything a lot easier.”
The move that proved key for Ramirez, who has a fastball that sits between 88 and 92 miles per hour, was dropping his slider and going with a cutter.
“I've been consistent so I'd like to just continue to fine tune things,” Ramirez said. “I feel like I'm headed in the right direction.”