To see Kevin Kopps react, it looked like the end of any other game. His teammates let him hear about the lack of emotion afterward, after they’d spilled out of the home dugout in elation, engulfed their closer in the center of Nelson Wolff Stadium, and later as the clubhouse
To see Kevin Kopps react, it looked like the end of any other game. His teammates let him hear about the lack of emotion afterward, after they’d spilled out of the home dugout in elation, engulfed their closer in the center of Nelson Wolff Stadium, and later as the clubhouse party raged.
Because the back-foot slider the right-handed reliever uncorked to strike out Kaden Polcovich didn’t end just any other game. Double-A San Antonio no-hit Arkansas during a 4-0 win, with Kopps and three others combining on the 15th nine-inning no-hitter in franchise history. It was the Missions’ first no-no since Logan Allen and Jason Jester in 2018, and the eighth thrown in the Minors in 2022.
“It was one of those when it seemed like the stars and the moon and the sun all lined up,” Missions manager Phillip Wellman said. “All four pitchers on the same day commanded their fastball and their secondary stuff. I saw more sliders and changeups for strikes today than I’d seen all year long."
San Antonio's pitchers came two walks away from perfection, issuing free passes in the eighth and ninth for Arkansas’ only baserunners. Starter Lake Bachar and winner Moises Lugo (2-0) combined for six perfect frames, with Bachar striking out two in three innings in his first affiliated appearance since Aug. 28, 2019. The former fifth-round pick missed the canceled 2020 season and all of 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
“He really set the tone, and I think that got everybody hyped because of the road he’s traveled,” Wellman said. “That was great to see.”
Filling the zone with sliders and changeups, Lugo followed by striking out three over three innings of middle relief. Righty Carlos Belen was unhittable in the seventh and eighth, though his walk of Cade Marlowe ended the perfecto bid in the latter frame. Kopps, the Padres' No. 15 prospect per MLB Pipeline, came on for the ninth. The righty induced two weak outs, issued a walk and then punched out Polcovich to end it.
That’s when the anticipation that had been building spilled out onto the field.
“We did the usual baseball thing and didn’t put any attention towards it (until it happened),” Kopps said. “I was pretty excited, but I didn’t show it that much. I don’t really show a lot of emotions. I got a few comments in the locker room about not looking exciting, but that’s just kinda how I take things.”
But the weight of their accomplishment soon became clear, even to Kopps. Afterward, he and Wellman highlighted catcher Chandler Seagle’s contributions on an afternoon that turned into a historic effort.
“I was a little slow getting into the locker room, and then they basically ripped off my jersey in the party,” Kopps said. “I think this adds to the confidence of our staff and to our team as a whole.”
Added Wellman: "These don’t happen very often, but when they do it’s special. It never gets old, that’s for damn sure."
Joe Trezza is an contributor for MiLB.com.