Hickory's Englert, McDowell combine on no-no
High-A Hickory made history almost exactly a month to the day from when it completed the franchise's first no-hitter in nearly a decade. The club didn't wait nearly as long to throw one again. Mason Englert and Theo McDowell combined to toss the second no-hitter of the season as Hickory
High-A Hickory made history almost exactly a month to the day from when it completed the franchise's first no-hitter in nearly a decade. The club didn't wait nearly as long to throw one again.
Mason Englert and Theo McDowell combined to toss the second no-hitter of the season as Hickory blanked Greenville, 4-0, at Fluor Field at the West End on Thursday. The duo worked around three walks to accomplish the feat.
"We were on a four-game skid here, so we just wanted the win any way we could get it. But to be able to close out another no-hitter, I think that was really special for the guys and the organization," Crawdads pitching coach Jon Goebel said. "I think when a no-hitter like that happens, it's really a team effort. We have a mantra here of '30 vs. 9' [our entire roster vs. their starting lineup] and I think that really came through tonight."
McDowell appeared in both milestones for Hickory. The right-hander pitched the final two frames of each game and posted an identical line, striking out two while yielding a walk.
"I joked with Theo after the game and said to him, 'I guess you're our close out the no-hitter specialist now,'" Goebel said.
They did it again! The 'Dads threw their second no-no of the season! pic.twitter.com/DTRxHZVc2B— Hickory Crawdads (@HickoryCrawdads) August 12, 2022
Englert entered the night enjoying the best stretch of his career. The right-hander had allowed one run or fewer in each of his previous four starts, and he proved early on that it was no fluke -- he retired the side in order on five pitches in the opening frame. He needed just 10 pitches to navigate through the second, and the 22-year-old was perfect through four -- whiffing a pair.
After an eight-pitch at-bat by Niko Kavadas resulted in a leadoff walk in the fifth, Englert recorded two outs on nine pitches before yielding his only other blemish on the night -- a walk to Tyler McDonough. But the 2018 fourth-round Draft selection locked back in to set down the final seven batters he faced. He exited after throwing 61 of his 93 pitches for strikes and completed the night with six punchouts.
"Mason had really good execution of all of his pitches tonight. When he's on, he's got four pitches that are above average and he's been clicking pretty good over the past month or so," Goebel said. "He's a guy that's extremely focused mentally. He does a lot of meditation between innings to visualize how he's going to attack the following inning. And I think he believes in his execution so much that he's not the type of guy that's going to give in to a hitter. He'll never just try to put one over the plate. He doesn't fear the occasional free pass because he knows he can make that pitch if he needs to. So whenever he walks someone, there's never any red flags there because he's shown the ability to not let that affect him."
McDowell took the ball and quickly retired the first five Drive batters he faced, fanning two. After top Red Sox prospect Marcelo Mayer kept the game going with a five-pitch walk, McDowell closed the door by coaxing Blaze Jordan into a flyout to shallow center.
"Theo was scheduled to throw in relief tonight regardless of the situation, but once we got into this, he is a guy that you feel comfortable bringing into this type of moment," Goebel said. "He's a pretty cool dude -- very chill demeanor, he's a smooth operator in that regard. He's shown a really good breaking ball since he joined us; it's always been his equalizer and it was what he leaned on to navigate through those last two innings."
Englert's recent surge has helped the 6-foot-4, 206-pounder to lower his ERA to 3.59 with a 0.98 WHIP and a .199 opponents' average against over 19 starts. He has amassed 108 strikeouts and 23 walks over 92 2/3 innings with the Crawdads this season.
McDowell was promoted to Hickory from Single-A Down East on June 30 and he has impressed while in the South Atlantic League. The 23-year-old has not allowed a run in nine of his 11 appearances with the Crawdads. He currently boasts a 2.35 ERA and .185 opponents' average against over 15 1/3 frames at the High-A level.
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.