NEWARK — It was a historic day for the Newark Bears and ace pitcher Mike Ness, as the right hander threw a no-hitter in Newark’s 3-0 win over the Quebec Capitales on Wednesday afternoon.
Ness struck out eight batters and walked just one batter on his way to completing the rare accomplishment. It was the first time a Bears pitcher threw a no-hitter since Joe Gannon in 2004.
“It feels great, it’s unbelievable,” said Ness. “This is the best moment of my life.”
Making the feat even more impressive was that Ness worked around several defensive miscues, as the Bears committed six errors on the day.
“He got it done,” said manager Ken Oberkfell. “When we made an error, he didn’t let it affect him. He just went that much harder at the next guy. The only person that had an effect on was me, because it makes him throw more pitches and then you start worrying about getting that pitch count up there and you worry about his arm, but he pitched around [the errors]. He’s a true professional.”
The defense did step up when Ness needed it the most, as second baseman Juan Martinez ranged deep into the hole on the right side of the infield to field a ground ball and throw out Quebec first baseman Robert Wagner.
Martinez made another play to preserve the no-hitter with one out in the eighth inning, when a ground ball was hit to the right side of the infield and seemed destined for right field, before a sliding Martinez cut the ball off just beyond the infield dirt, and recovered to get Josh Colafemina of the Capitales at first base.
“I took a little bit deeper angle this game,” said Martinez. “In those situations, you’re going to try everything to keep the ball in the infield.”
Ness had to face the heart of Quebec’s order in the ninth inning. Former Mets prospect Jonathon Malo popped out to Ness for the first out of the inning. Center fielder Steve Brown struck out for the second out in the inning.
Wagner was the last chance for Quebec. After a called strike, he fouled the second pitch off. With an 0-2 count, Ness got him looking for strike three to cap off the no-hitter.
Center fielder Quentin Davis, in his first game since injuring himself on June 1, got the Bears on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the third inning. Martinez followed that with an RBI of his own, to give Newark a 2-0 lead after three.
First baseman Eric McGee hammered a solo home run in the fifth inning to expand Newark’s lead to three runs, which was more than enough the way Ness was throwing.
“He was outstanding,” added pitching coach Ralph Citarella. “He had all his pitches working and he picked up his teammates because we had six errors. That’s an incredible feat in itself.”
Just a week earlier, Ness had struggled against the Capitales in his last start, going five innings and allowing 11 runs on 13 hits in a 13-7 loss.
“He studied what he did and had it in his memory bank what he did against them last time,” Oberkfell continued. “He knew what we needed to do and he made adjustments. That’s a good club. That might be the best team in this league that he just no-hit, so you’ve got to tip your hat to him.”
What will Ness accomplish in his next start?
“Who knows?” he said. “Baseball’s a funny game.”