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Ivey turns in breakout outing for ValleyCats

Astros third-rounder hurls 4 2/3 hitless innings in best pro start
Tyler Ivey dropped his ERA nearly four runs from 13.89 to 9.92 with his scoreless outing. (Mark Shelley/Tri-City ValleyCats)
July 31, 2017

Two nights ago, Tyler Ivey watched as his team fell victim to a no-hitter. On Monday, he anchored a hitless bid of his own.Houston's 2017 third-round pick turned in his best professional start so far, allowing just a walk while striking out three over 4 2/3 innings, and Class A

Two nights ago, Tyler Ivey watched as his team fell victim to a no-hitter. On Monday, he anchored a hitless bid of his own.
Houston's 2017 third-round pick turned in his best professional start so far, allowing just a walk while striking out three over 4 2/3 innings, and Class A Short Season Tri-City didn't allow a hit until the eighth before settling for a 1-0 win over Vermont in 10 innings.

Picked from Grayson (Texas) Junior College last month, Ivey made one start in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before joining the ValleyCats on Independence Day. His early returns were not good. Heading into Monday, the righty was 0-2 with a 13.89 ERA through five outings (three starts). Against the Lake Monsters, one major thing changed.
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"The changeup, man," Ivey said. "We have a really good pitching coach here (Bill Murphy), and I hadn't been able to throw a changeup for strikes or anything. We've been working pretty hard on it, and it's finally started to come together a little bit. My past few outings, I felt like I was more throwing than pitching. Tonight, it was just like I got back to doing what I do, being me and pitching and not worrying about anything else."
With the ability to mix in a quality off-speed offering, Ivey flourished. The 21-year-old issued his only free pass to Vermont's Logan Farrar with two outs in the first frame. Following that, he retired 11 straight.
"The past couple weeks, we've been working on trying to get more sidespin on it, just get the feel because it's a different pitch," Ivey said. "We've been working hard on it and it's starting to come along nice. Hopefully it'll continue like that.
"I didn't throw a great pregame bullpen, but you get out there and just try to compete. That's all I tried to do. I just tried to go out there and compete, pitch to win, and it felt nice. It was a great win. We're coming along a lot better now."
The Rowlett, Texas native found his rhythm and didn't have to worry about it fading. Vermont starter Wyatt Marks allowed just two hits in 3 1/3 shutout innings, and relievers Parker Dunshee and Logan Sallow followed with 4 2/3 scoreless frames behind him. The quick innings kept Ivey heated up.
"Run support's great, but you never want to be sitting in the dugout for 30 minutes," he said. "Especially in a tight game, you know you have to go out there and pitch a little better to keep your team in it. You've got to win that duel with the other guy."
Ivey retired Vermont's Will Toffey on an infield groundout to lead off the fifth before Javier Godard reached on a fielding error by Tri-City third baseman Adrian Tovalin. Ivey got Aaron Arruda to fly out to right, but used up the last of his Monday night chips in the process.
"Morgan [Ensberg, Tri-City's manager] just came and was like, 'Hell of an outing, man. Great job,'" the righty said. "I figured it was the pitch count. I think I had like 78 and my limit was like 75, so it was about right. I really wanted to finish the inning, but I get it. It's a pitch count. It's pro ball."
Of Ivey's 78 pitches, 49 were strikes, but while his night was done, the ValleyCats' no-hit effort wasn't.
Diogenes Almengo got Iolana Akau to bounce out to third to end the fifth and worked around a two-out throwing error by shortstop and Jonathan Arauz, the No. 28 Astros prospect, in the sixth. Carlos Hiraldo pitched a perfect seventh, but with one gone in the eighth, Akau came through for the Lake Monsters with a clean single to center.

"You hate to see that happen, but it's baseball," Ivey said. "I was hoping we'd get it, but that's so hard to come by."
With the no-hitter gone, the shutout endured --- for both sides. Vermont and Tri-City went to extras scoreless before J.J. Matijevic got the ValleyCats started in the 10th. The left fielder doubled to center with one out and advanced to third on a two-out wild pitch by Lake Monsters reliever Marc Berube.
"It was pretty tense," Ivey said. "We wanted to win that game. We get a guy on, got a hit, then all of a sudden, they walk the bases loaded to [set up a forceout]. Then after the bases were loaded, they walked the next guy. It was crazy. You'd rather see a walk-off bomb, but it's still awesome. Jake Adams, he played a great game tonight defensively for me, and he came up big in the end. That's just the baseball gods giving him something for playing so good in the field."
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Tovalin and Michael Papierski walked to load the bases, and first baseman Adams drew the free pass to give his team the win. Ivey will have to wait at least one more start to get his own first win on the mound, but his first strong outing marked a milestone.
"It feels great," he said. "From getting drafted by such a great organization and coming out, I mean I've been struggling. It's been tough on me the past few weeks, but you just can't think about it. You've just got to keep working hard. The harder you work, the better things will happen. That's what I believe."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.