©The Arizona Daily Star|
The crowd rose to its feet with two outs in
the ninth inning and Tucson's Mark Petkovsek
went into his windup, not only trying to get
Webster Garrison out, but to record the
first nine-inning no-hitter in Tucson Toros history.
"There is no way God can take take this away
from him," Tucson manager Rick Sweet
thought to himself. "You don't get that close `
and not get it. He may never get that close
Garrison bounced a grounder to shortstop
Frank Kellner, who threw to first baseman
Lance Madsen to secure the no-hitter. The To-
ros rushed the mound, and in the background,
the scoreboard read:Colorado Springs 000 000 000 - 0 0 0
Tucson won 5-0 in front of 5,473 fans, the largest crowd at Hi Corbett Field this year.
Television cameras surrounded Petkovsek,
who had not thrown a no-hitter since he had a
seven-inning no-no at the University of Texas
in 1986. The man from the small town of
Beaumont, Texas was a big star for a night.
The only previous no-hitter for the Toros
was a six-inning job by Billy Smith against Van-
couver in 1981. Roger Mason had a no-hitter
through nine innings against Edmonton in
1989, but the Toros eventually lost in 11 innings.
"I just kept on trying to do the same thing in the late innings and not think about it," said
Petkovsek (pronounced Pet-KIZE-ick). "I car-
ried on and didn't do anything really different.
I talked with the guys in the dugout."
But it wasn't until Alan Cockrell flied out to
the warning track in center field to end the
eighth that Petkovsek felt really comfortable
with the no-hitter.
"After that, I knew this would be my night,"
he said, smiling. "There was some good karma."
Center fielder Brian Hunter, who was standing next
to Petkovsek, said incredulously, "Man, I thought that was going to hit the wall."
Not this night.
Petkovsek (5-2) recorded only three strike-outs, so a vast majority of the outs were made in the field. Tucson pitching coach Brent Strom went so far as to credit the Toros' groundskeepers.
"For some reason, they didn't cut the grass before today," Strom said, "and the high grass slowed a lot of grounders."
Most of the Colorado Springs players were not in a comical mood."I've never been on a
team that was no-hit before, and it really (ticks) me off," said Colorado Springs' Chris Jones, a former Toro.
"We swung our bats, but we hit the ball right at people.
"The umpires called an open zone, but they did that for both teams.
And he just pitched a hell of a game."
Petkovsek, who walked two,
faced only two batters over the
minimum of 27. Vinnie Castilla
walked with one out in the sec-
Ond inning and former UA player
Jason Bates grounded into a dou-
After Petkovsek walked Jones
with two outs in the fourth, he
retired 13 consecutive batters before Jim Taturn reached on a
two-base error by third baseman
Phil Nevin to lead off the ninth
"Mark and I were in sync all
night," said Tucson catcher
Scooter Tucker. "If I moved out-
side, he Would hit me right there,
and if I moved inside, he was
"He also battled back from
being down in the couple of times. That's a sign of a good
Petkovsek, 29, threw 102
pitches and maintained a speed
of about 87 mph on his fastball.
After the game, he showed no
signs of fatigue, just exhiliration.
"My mom and dad are going to get woken up tonight (in Beaumont)," said Petkovsek, who recorded one more hit than the Sky Sox by doubling in the seventh. "I'll have to savor this for a while."
Tucson (21 - 16) has won six consecutive games--it's longest streak this season--and the Toros now trail Colorado Springs (22 - 15) by one game in the
Pacific Coast League
Southern Division Standings.
Tucson, which lost its first six games, has never been this close to first.
The hot hitting of Dave Hajek and Mike Simms continued for the Toros, who were second in the PCL in team batting with a .296 average entering the game.
Hajek extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a two. run single in the second inning off Colorado Springs starter Curtis Leskanic (2-4).Hajek went 2 for 3 last night. He` is hitting better than .450 in his streak.
Simms, batting .321 after his 1 for 4 performance last night,
highlighted a three-run rally in the fifth with a two-out double. It was his seventh double since joining the Toros on May 2.