Rules were made to be broken, especially when the outcome is a no-hitter. Just ask Hagerstown's Gaby Hernandez.
Most South Atlantic League pitchers rarely get deep into ballgames because of pitch counts, but the Suns ace got far beyond that during his 1-0 no-hitter over the visiting West Virginia Power on Sunday afternoon.
The day took on added meaning because it gave Hagerstown a share of first place in the SAL's Northern Division for the first half. Lexington held off Lake County, 6-5, to force a one-game playoff for the first-half division title next Saturday.
"I didn't think I was going to last past the seventh inning because of the organization's strict pitch count," a euphoric Hernandez (5-1) said after the game. "But once I knew that coach was going to let me go out there, I just really concentrated on throwing strikes, getting groundballs and getting in and out of innings."
Prior to throwing his first pitch at 1:37 p.m. ET, Hernandez used his right foot to scratch out the word "Dad" on the back of the pitcher's mound to commemorate Father's Day.
Hernandez threw 115 pitches against the Power in his longest outing this year, allowing just a pair of walks while striking out six. The last time Hernandez could remember going over the century mark was his senior year in high school, when he threw 125 pitches in an eight-inning, 20-strikeout no-hitter for Belen Jesuit High in Miami in 2004.
Hernandez, a third-round pick by the New York Mets in 2004, nearly lost the no-no in the top of the ninth. The Power's Alcides Escobar hit a tough grounder to third baseman Grant Psomas, who fired the throw over to first barely in time to beat Escobar, who argued vehemently with umpire John Gellatt. Despite his pleas, all Escobar got was an early exit from the game by the man in blue.
It was Hagerstown's first no-hitter since Clay Hensley pitched a seven-inning perfect game against Kannapolis Intimidators on May 3, 2003.
Hagerstown got its lone run back in the bottom of the second inning. Psomas drew a leadoff walk from West Virginia starter Greg Kloosterman (3-10) and scored two outs later on James Burt's double to left field.
That would also be as much offense the Suns got in one inning, as Kloosterman was almost as effective as Hernandez. The 6-foot-2 lefty gave up just three hits and three walks in six innings, striking out three Suns. Since the calendar turned to June, Kloosterman has allowed just four earned runs in 21 1/3 innings (1.69 ERA) and struck out 17, but is just 0-3. -- Michael Echan/MLB.com