A brief seven-day stint on the disabled list did former Northwestern pitcher Eric Jokisch a world of good when he returned to the bump Tuesday night for the Tennessee Smokies, the Class AA minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Jokisch threw his first career no-hitter as he halted the lengthy 11-game winning streak of the Jacksonville Suns.
The former NU southpaw was in command early on as he mowed down the first 10 hitters he faced before issuing the first of four walks in the game. Jokisch settled quickly and got plenty of help from his defense along the way, including a fantastic diving stab by shortstop Javier Baez to secure the second out in the bottom of the ninth. The Virginia, Ill., native then got reliever Pete Andreiczyk to ground out to Christian Villanueva at third base to end the ballgame and cement his place in baseball history.
"This is probably the best day of my life," Jokisch told MiLB.com's Ashley Marshall after the game. "I will try and get [the ball] home as safely and quickly as possible. That's something I will keep forever and hopefully tell my kids and grandkids that it happened.
"I grew up just hoping one day to throw a no-hitter in the Major Leagues," Jokisch added. "This isn't the same, but right now I don't think I could feel any happier about the way things are going."
It was the first nine-inning no-hitter by a Tennessee pitcher since Leo Estrella accomplished the feat in 2000. Jokisch's gem was the first individual no-hitter in the Southern League since 2011 when Matt Moore of the Montgomery Biscuits did it against the Mobile BayBears. Moore is now a member of the Tampa Bay Rays big league club.
Here is a video of the final out and ensuing celebration, courtesy of MiLB.com:
Jokisch threw 108 pitches and struck out eight Suns to earn his ninth victory of the season. The lefty helped his own cause at the plate with a pair of hits and his first RBI of the season in the 10-0 route.
In April, the 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month. He currently leads the Southern League with 114 strikeouts and ranks third with 128.2 innings pitched this season.
Here is a video of Jokisch's postgame interview, courtesy of the Jacksonville Suns: