Three outs away from a no-hitter on Saturday, former Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Cody Ponce shook off his nerves by remembering some advice from his parents.

The 28-year-old, in his first season with the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League, became the first imported pitcher to throw a no-hit shutout in Japan in 16 years, but the 2-0 win came with at least one anxious moment.

Cody Ponce of the Nippon Ham Fighters throws a pitch on his way to a no-hitter against the SoftBank Hawks in a Pacific League baseball game at Sapporo Dome in northern Japan on Aug. 27, 2022. (Kyodo)

"I was standing on the sideline playing catch. I felt like I was about to throw up," Ponce said. "And I just remembered what my dad and my mom always said, 'Dig deep and keep on going.'"

In a game where his two-seam fastball was keeping the SoftBank Hawks hitters off the barrel of the bat, the Fighters fielders made three big plays behind him.

Ponce, who turned pro with the Milwaukee Brewers after they took him in the second round of MLB's 2015 draft, joined the Fighters this season after 20 games with the Pirates in 2020 and 2021.

After walking the first batter in the ninth inning, former MLB regular Freddy Galvis, Ponce got an easy fly out and a word of encouragement when third baseman Ryusei Sato approached the mound.

"I thanked him after the game," Ponce said. "He allowed me to make sure I just stay focused on the batter, because I knew the guys behind me would take care of anything in the field."

When his 113th pitch resulted in a game-ending double play, Ponce looked toward the Sapporo Dome ceiling.

When he made his 2020 MLB debut, Ponce paid tribute to his mother, Jennifer, who died of brain cancer in 2017, and he did so again after the biggest game of his career.

"I looked up and just thanked my mom for being there with me the entire time," he said.

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