BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - When it seems like a no hitter, or even a perfect game is possible, there is one simple rule to follow: don't jinx the pitcher.
With a first half South Division championship and a playoff berth on the line last month, the Shuckers didn't dare test fate.
"After the fifth inning I think it was, I realized what was going on," Shuckers pitcher Zack Brown said with a smile. "In the dugout with the guys, I could just feel them kind of shy away from me and not say anything."
That night on June 15th, Brown took a no-hitter all the way down to the final strike in the ninth against Mississippi, but still finished off a complete, scoreless, one-hit performance, leading the Shuckers to a 5-0 victory and ushering in a celebration for the ages.
When asked where that moment ranks in his career?
"That's definitely number one," Brown said. "I mean, that was crazy. To have that kind of a night for myself, and for the team to put us in that position throughout the season, it was a great night for that to happen."
It's a memorable highlight in a stellar 2018 campaign for Brown to this point. Entering his planned start Sunday against Tennessee, the Shuckers are 17-1 when he pitches, and 9-0 when he starts, thanks in large part to his Southern League-best 2.33 earned run average.
"The guys are always giving me good run support, so I try to work quick and get them back in here," Brown said. "Just doing that and attacking the hitters pretty quickly, try to get them off the field, get them in here and get swinging."
It's quite the improvement from last year's 4-5, 3.39 ERA campaign in Single-A Wisconsin.
"The command piece is really starting to play a factor," Brown said. "Sequencing is getting a lot better, and just the experience of just growing up and realizing who I am. Using my strengths every time out, knowing my weaknesses every time and just using the pitches that I have that day."
Last summer, guys like Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta were slinging away in Biloxi, and within a year's time, both made their Major League debuts.
Brown, the Milwaukee Brewers' No. 23 prospect, hopes to be the next in line, but realizes nothing is guaranteed.
"We go to bed dreaming at night about it, I know I do," Brown said. "A lot of the guys talk about how cool it would be to make that part of our lives and enjoy that moment with the Brewers. I feel like I'm one step away, but I still feel like I have a lot to work on and make that opportunity come to fruition."