It wasn't until the seventh inning, when both teams lined up for the playing of "God Bless America," that Double-A Bowie pitcher Radhames Liz glanced at the scoreboard. His team was winning. That much he knew.
What Liz discovered at that moment was that his opponent, the Harrisburg Senators, didn't have a hit. Liz was six outs away from making minor league baseball history. Again.
Liz had combined with two relievers on a no-hitter last year in his first start at Single-A Frederick. But on Friday night, he got one of his own, walking three and striking out eight along the way.
"I wasn't even thinking about that," he said the next day. "I saw the scoreboard and thought, 'Oh, a no-hitter.' "
He thought something else with two outs in the ninth, when a fly ball looked as if it might fall in left field. But Ruddy Yan made the catch, and the celebration began.
"For a minute, I was thinking the ball was going to drop," said Liz, 23, named the organization's fifth-best prospect last year by Baseball America.
"Everybody was excited. I was excited."
So were his parents. Liz always calls them in the Dominican Republic after his games, if he doesn't hear from them first.
"I don't like to give them bad news," he said. "I was excited not to."
Liz threw 120 pitches and said his arm was a little sore the next day, but nothing out of the ordinary.
"It's normal, like every time," he said. "Whenever I pitch, it's the same."
Well, not always.
Norfolk was batting .194 (7-for-36) with the bases loaded going into the weekend. ... Outfielder Tike Redman looks like a good acquisition. He was leading the Tides with a .405 on-base percentage and scored 20 runs. He also had four triples, tied with Brandon Fahey for the team lead. ... Catcher J.R. House was batting .340 with 26 RBIs with runners in scoring position. ... Outfielder Jason Dubois was batting .308 with a home run and seven RBIs with runners in scoring position and two outs. ... Rob Bell hadn't allowed a hit in eight at-bats with the bases loaded. ... Garrett Olson allowed seven earned runs in his last start, ending a streak during which he allowed three or fewer in six straight outings.
Third baseman Oscar Salazar was out of professional baseball the past two seasons after playing at Double-A Akron in 2004. He's making up for lost time. Going into the weekend, Salazar led the Eastern League with 64 hits and ranked second with 36 RBIs. He was fifth in average (.320) and doubles (14). During his 14-game hitting streak, which ended Thursday, he batted .464 with six doubles and five homers. Salazar was 3-for-3 with a grand slam and eight RBIs with the bases loaded this season. ... Reliever Jim Hoey moved up to Norfolk after getting 14 saves and not allowing a run in 18 2/3 innings. ... Outfielder Jeff Fiorentino had a nice 10-game stretch, when he batted .333 with two homers and six RBIs. ... Outfielder Val Majewski ranked third in the league with 56 hits. He was batting .378 in 12 day games.
Outfielder Jake Duncan's .320 average going into the weekend would have ranked fourth in the Carolina League if he weren't 13 plate appearances shy of qualifying. Duncan led the team with a .343 average with runners on base. ... First baseman Mark Fleisher hit .321 during an eight-game stretch. He was batting .360 with a home run this season when leading off an inning. ... Going into his most recent start, Chorye Spoone (Northeast) had held opponents to a .196 average with runners in scoring position. ... Before Saturday, David Hernandez led the Carolina League with 57 strikeouts and posted a 1.41 ERA in six home appearances, compared with a 10.19 ERA in five road games. ... Outfielder Kennard Jones was 3-for-6 with five RBIs with the bases loaded. He led the Keys with 24 runs and 26 walks.
Congratulations to Pedro Beato, who finally earned his first decision in 11 starts. Beato held Lakewood to one unearned run in six innings in Thursday's 8-1 victory. ... Third baseman Bill Rowell, the Orioles' top draft pick last year, was hitting .258 with a home run, six RBIs and five runs in his first eight games since joining the Shorebirds on May 23. ... Outfielder Brandon Tripp ranked second in the South Atlantic League with a .360 average, .434 on-base percentage and .616 slugging percentage. He was batting .392 in 18 road games and .314 in 14 home games. ... First baseman Chris Vinyard ranked second in the league with 44 RBIs and led the team with 52 hits and 14 doubles in 50 games.