The top two pitching prospects in the Red Sox system went back-to-back in a Hadlock Field doubleheader Thursday night.

Lefty Brandon Walter and right-hander Brayan Bello certainly lived up to their billing.

Walter struck out 10 and allowed just three hits in a dominant 5-1 victory … only to be upstaged by Bello’s no-hitter in the nightcap, a 3-1 decision before a crowd of 3,045.

“Happy, happy, happy,” said Bello, who related through Spanish translator (and former Sea Dogs manager) Corey Wimberly that not until the last batter did he think about the no-hit possibility.

“He said he never really was focused on it,” Wimberly said. “He was just focused on attacking each hitter and getting outs.”

The no-hitter is the fifth in Sea Dogs history. Three of the other four were combined efforts. Bello joins Henry Owens as the only pitchers to throw complete-game no-nos, albeit of fewer than nine innings.

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Owens needed only six innings in a rain-shortened victory on April 3, 2014 at Reading. Bello went seven innings (the scheduled length of a doubleheader game) Thursday night, walking three and allowing an unearned run after an error by Portland left fielder Pedro Castellanos in the fourth.

Portland scored on a two-run homer by Hudson Potts in the fourth and a run-scoring triple by Brandon Howlett in the second, after an Izzy Wilson leadoff double.

Bello struck out five and used a mix of four pitches, including a four-seamer clocked as fast as 98 miles per hour. He also threw an assortment of sliders, sinkers and changeups.

By contrast, Walter frustrated Reading with soft stuff – sliders and change-ups that rarely registered above 81 mph.

“What a great performance,” said Sea Dogs Manager Chad Epperson. “That change-up is an equalizer. It really keeps you honest. You start sitting on that and then the fastball’s electric.”

Thursday marked a fourth consecutive quality start for Walter (1-0), who sports a 0.93 earned runs average. Opponents are batting a measly .163. In one stretch Thursday he retired 14 of 15 batters.

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“I definitely threw more fastballs in the other starts than I did (Thursday),” Walter said afterward. “It’s all game to game. The first couple innings you catch on to what their plan is and today it was clearly trying to get swings on a fastball.”

Instead, Walter pulled the string and relied on movement and location.

“A changeup is going to look like a fastball coming out (of the hand) and then dive out of the zone,” he said. “They were swinging at it, so I’m going to keep throwing it. There’s going to be some weak contact if they hit it, so I’ll just keep coming at them with that until they make an adjustment.”

Unlike any of his previous four starts, the Sea Dogs provided enough offense to get a win for Walter. David Hamilton singled, stole second and scored on a sacrifice fly by Castellanos in the first.

It remained 1-0 until Portland tacked on three more runs in the fifth. Consecutive extra-base hits from Devlin Granberg (triple), Kole Cottam (double) and Castellanos (double) followed a two-out single by Tyler Dearden.

The Phils scored their only run in the seventh after Jack Conley greeted Sea Dogs reliever Oddanier Mosqueda with a triple. Mosqueda retired the next three batters to complete the seven-inning game in an efficient 95 minutes.

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Walter hadn’t allowed a walk all season until Thursday. The walk came after he had given up a single and hit Jhailyn Ortiz (who had doubled and singled) with a pitch. Aldrem Corredor fell behind 0-2, then worked the count full.

“I didn’t want to give him one that he could crush just to keep the (no-walk streak) going,” Walter said. “I made a decent pitch. He didn’t bite. Kudos to him.”

Walter said he knew the streak wouldn’t last.

“I was just glad I was able to make the next pitch and get the out with the bases loaded and get out of that with no runs,” he said. “That was huge.”

After Walter missed low with a full-count slider in the sixth, pitching coach Lance Carter popped out of the dugout and strode to the mound.

Walter greeted him with a joke.

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“Aw, I walk one guy and I get yelled at?”

A 26th round draft pick from the University of Delaware, Walter still hasn’t allowed a home run this season.

“It’s going to happen, just like the walk happened, and that’s OK,” he said. “Even if I give up a bunch of hits in a row, I’ve got to stick to my plan. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of success early here so it’s been easy for me to stay confident going in the strike zone. But that’s a challenge I’m going to get throughout the season. Sometimes they’re going to jump on a first-pitch change-up or a first-pitch fastball and they’re going to hit it out of the ballpark. And that’s OK. The goal doesn’t change after that. I’ve still gotta be in the strike zone.”

The Red Sox analytics folks have convinced Walter that the more strikes he throws, the better his chances for success.

When he falls behind in counts, “the batting averages, slugging percentages, all that stuff is going to go up,” he said. “The more you can stay ahead in the count, the more success you’re going to have. I’ve bought into that.”

NOTES: Katie Krall, the Sea Dogs developmental coach, coached first base in Game 1 Thursday night. She did likewise Tuesday night, for the first time at Hadlock, after some experience in spring training and last week in Somerset, New Jersey. “It’s fun,” she said. “I did it a few times in spring training. I was definitely nervous at first.”


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