Smokies fans remember last year when lefty Eric Jokisch pitched a no-hitter against the Suns in Jacksonville on August 6, 2013. This year another former Smokies southpaw had a similar feat for Triple-A Iowa, as Chris Rusin no-hit the Zephrys in a 3-0 I-Cubs win in New Orleans on May 7.
Rusin had spent time in the majors with the Chicago Cubs this season, but was sent back down to Triple-A Iowa in April. Rusin, however, made a case for himself to return to the majors as he didn’t allow a hit through nine while striking out three and walking two in his 118-pitch no-no performance.
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, Rusin stated that he didn’t know how many pitches he had thrown and kept pitching until they were going to take him out.
Rusin is the first Iowa pitcher to throw a no-hitter in 30 years and the seventh in franchise history. The last Iowa pitcher to toss a no-hitter was Reggie Patterson on August 21, 1984.
The Zephyrs could only manage three base runners against Rusin over the length of the game. Rusin only ran into trouble twice, but a duo of former Smokies saved the game and the no-hit bid with stellar defensive plays.
In the sixth inning, shortstop Javier Baez stopped what looked to be a sure hit with a jumping stop on a bouncer toward center. He collected the grounder and threw to first to get the inning’s second out. Then, with two outs in the ninth inning center fielder Matt Szczur made a diving catch in shallow center for the final out and to seal the no-hitter.
Rusin spent three seasons with the Smokies from 2010 through 2012. In those three seasons he was 5-3 with a 3.40 ERA (37 ER/98.0 IP).