Charleston Rolls Behind Hughes The Unhittable

So you thought you had seen the best of Phil Hughes? Think again. He gets better with each start but nothing tops his performance on Sunday afternoon. The big righthander allowed no hits in 6 innings of work in an absolutely dominating win for him and the team.

First of all, it was a much needed, fantastic win for the Charleston RiverDogs. Not to mention, it was a major awakening of the bats that they also needed coming off a 1-0 loss on Saturday. With that in mind, the RiverDogs put up an 8 spot by going on to defeat the Rome Braves by the final score of 8-2. However, if you just went by the final score, you may not realize the degree of effectiveness of the game's starting pitcher on Sunday.

Right off the bat, Phil Hughes came out blazing. In the first, he struck out 2 batters, setting down the Braves side in order. Then, three more strikeouts in the second. After that, yet another punch out in the 3rd and 4th. But, the important thing is that through all this, he had not allowed one hit. It would remain that way through 6 innings. However, with a no hitter still intact, manager Bill Mosiello lifted Hughes from the game due to pitch count restrictions. It actually goes to show you how much the Yankee organization values Hughes' arm that they are so cautious with him. To them, he is truly the golden arm of the entire system. Nonetheless, it was more than a tremendous performance by the 18 year old Hughes. His final line goes in the books as 6 innings, no runs on no hits while walking 3 and striking out 8. Not to mention, he lowered his already miniscule ERA to a microscopic 1.07. What a day it was for the Yankees #1 pitching prospect, who just seems to be getting better with each appearance. That's a scary thought for a hitter.

Now, it would be up to the Charleston bullpen to preserve the no hitter. Talk about being thrown into the fire, the recently promoted Phil Coke made his debut with an appearance in the 7th inning. And, what a job he did. In relief of Hughes, Coke tossed a hitless inning, striking out 2 Braves. So, after 7, the no-no remained intact. Enter, a struggling Carlos Rosario for the 8th inning. You would think if there was anytime for the no hitter to be lost it might be here, but you'd be wrong. He retired the side keeping a zero in the hit column for the Rome Braves. Entering the ninth inning, it wasn't a save situation but in came Mike Martinez, who hadn't pitched since Tuesday and needed work. But, this is where the no hit bid would end. Martinez not only surrendered two clean hits but two runs as well. On other hand, the RiverDogs still picked up the 8-2 victory.

One thing's for sure, this game wasn't all about pitching for Charleston. The good news of the night was the return of Marcos Vechionacci to the lineup. And, back in the third spot, Nacci provided the first offense of the night, a sacrifice fly, driving in Tim Battle. Speaking of Battle, he would go on to bash his fourth home run of the season later on in the contest. Also adding a long ball in this one was Ben Jones. It was his third of the season. He had two hits in the game, raising his team leading average to an impressive .368. Pitching in two hits of his own was Grant Plumley, who slowly but surely is becoming one of the most important contributors on the ballclub.

One thing is for sure, all these great efforts add up to an 8-2 victory for the Charleston RiverDogs. But, one thing that won't show up in the box score is a spectacular catch by Marcos Vechionacci in the 8th inning to, at that point, preserve the no hitter. On a full extension dive up the middle, he robbed Ivan Terrazas of a sure single. Not to mention, he certainly proved that his rib problems were behind him. It certainly wasn't a bad night for two of the Yankees most highly touted prospects, Vechionacci and Phil Hughes.

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