By Matt Neal
Coming off a stretch of one game in five days due to weather, and staring another off day in the face, Strasburg needed some positive momentum and needed it quickly. As the team has done so often this season, they rebounded after a tough loss in a big way…by posting their second combined no-hitter of the season.
Cole McMillan (San Jac) started the no-hit bid on the mound, firing six innings while allowing only two base runners (both walks) and striking out eight. Dylan Oliver (Alabama) pitched the 7th inning, striking out a hitter, while Collin Jones (Central Missouri) pitched a perfect 8th inning, striking out two of the batters he faced. Utility man Bryson Horne (Columbus State) closed out the no-hit effort, tossing a perfect 9th inning to preserve the historic event.
The staff collectively needed only 115 pitches to finish the job and filled the zone all evening, pumping strikes at a 68% clip. McMillan lowered his ERA to 2.07 for the season while striking out 26 batters in 17.1 innings and allowing only 4 hits, leading to a microscopic batting average against of .070, which would lead the league if he had enough innings.
Offensively the Express finally got the consistent base traffic they had been seeking. Brandon Henson (VCU) was incredible this evening, going 4-for-5 with a HR, 2B, 4 RBI and 2 runs scored. Brett Hawkins (Young Harris College) added a double and 4 runs scored while Bryson Horne, in addition to his mound contribution, went 2-for-5 from the leadoff position. Nicholas Toney (FAU) launched a big 3-run homer in the 5th while Tyler Johnson (Eastern Oklahoma State JC) went 2-for-4. Sonny DiCharia (Samford) would round up the offensive effort for the Express, roping a run-scoring double in the 6th inning.
Even more amazingly – these four are a completely different quartet than the Strasburg slingers who achieved the June 21st no-hitter vs. Front Royal: Gene Hurst, Brian Coffey, Evan Rathburn, and Eric Sottille! Have to suppose two combined no-hitters by the same team in a season is rarer than two ITP homers by a team in the same game. How about we cap off this VBL season of rarities with two players hitting for the cycle in the same game?