7/28/2008 - Asheville Tourists Set Record
ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Lakewood was no-hit for the first time in team history on Wednesday night at McCormick Field, as Bruce Billings pitched the game of his career in a 10-0 Tourists victory.,/p> Billings was two runners away from a perfect game. A first-inning two-out walk to Tim Kennelly and a ninth- inning error on Billings with Joel Naughton at the plate were the only blemishes of the evening. The 22-year old right-hander struck out eight in the complete game performance. Lakewood was nearly no-hit on April 27 in Lexington, but collected three hits in the ninth and nearly came back to tie the game. It was not to be for the 'Claws on Wednesday, as Billings got Derrick Mitchell to fly out to complete the no-no. The last no-hitter thrown at McCormick Field came on June 26, 2000 when the Tourists no-hit the Cape Fear Crocs. The Crocs moved to Lakewood and became the BlueClaws prior to the 2001 season. While Billings (8-7) was putting his name in the history books, his offense did more than enough to take the pressure off. The Tourists got five runs against BlueClaws starter Julian Sampson (6-4), although just two runs were earned. The BlueClaws defense, which has been well below average in recent games, committed three errors in the first four innings, including two in the fourth to allow three unearned runs to cross. Sampson gave up the five runs in his five innings on five hits and three walks. He also struck out four Asheville hitters. The Tourists put the game away against reliever Eryk McConnell in his Lakewood debut. McConnell breezed through a 1-2-3 sixth inning, but fell apart in the seventh, allowing nine hitters to come to the plate. The Tourists puncuated the five-run rally with two home runs against the North Carolina native, one each from Heldor Velazquez and Brian Lapin. All nine Tourists hitters had at least one base hit. Lapin led the way, finishing 3-for-4 and a triple away from the cycle.