Suns Open Playoffs by Tossing No-Hitter; Billingsley Pitches First Seven Innings, Broxton the Final Two in Game 1 of Division Series

By Elliott, Jeff | The Florida Times Union, September 9, 2005 | Go to article overview

Suns Open Playoffs by Tossing No-Hitter; Billingsley Pitches First Seven Innings, Broxton the Final Two in Game 1 of Division Series


Elliott, Jeff, The Florida Times Union


Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT

Two weeks ago, Jacksonville Suns right-hander Chad Billingsley threw a complete-game, seven-inning, one-hit shutout against the Birmingham Barons. He said afterward he could have pitched better.

On Thursday night, in the opening game of the Southern League South Division playoff series, Billingsley was better. He yielded no hits in seven innings against the Barons. Jonathan Broxton then threw two innings of perfect relief, as the duo combined for a no-hitter in the Suns' 2-0 victory over Birmingham in front of 1,758 at the Baseball Grounds.

If the Suns get two more pitching efforts like one, this best-of-5 series won't go the distance. Billingsley, 21, struck out seven, walked three, and had a batter reach base on an error. He also received solid defensive support -- shortstop Sergio Garcia stopped a couple of potential hits and centerfielder Todd Donovan ran down a pair of liners to deep centerfield.

"I got ahead of a lot of hitters and that allowed me to throw a lot of breaking balls," Billingsley said. "I was going after the hitters early with my fastball, but in the last couple of innings, I was able to keep them off balance by mixing in the breaking stuff. When you're throwing strikes with your fastball and breaking ball, it really keeps hitters guessing."

Billingsley, one of the best pitchers in the Southern League during the second half of the season, improved to 9-2 and lowered his earned run average to 2.03 in 13 starts since July 1. He did not allow a run for the sixth time during that span.

After walking Casey Rogowski in the fourth inning, Billingsley retired the next 10 batters before walking Ryan Sweeney in the sixth inning, He then struck out Josh Fields and retired Andy Gonzalez on a groundout to second, his 115th pitch of the night.

Broxton retired all six batters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings, striking out two and touching the 100 mph mark on several pitches, as he and Billingsley posted the first combined no-hitter in Jacksonville Suns history. …

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