Nick Tepesch didn’t think it could get much better than pitching in front of 35,000 fans in a Texas Rangers preseason exhibition game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Nick Tepesch didn’t think it could get much better than pitching in front of 35,000 fans in a Texas Rangers preseason exhibition game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Then the former Blue Springs High School and University of Missouri standout teamed with Jimmy Reyes to throw a no-hitter in Wilmington, Del., as the Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans claimed a 3-0 victory over the Blue Rocks.

“I give all the credit to Jimmy for that no-hitter,” said Tepesch, who threw 115 pitches in 7 1/3 innings, along with striking out nine batters.

“I pitched the first 7 1/3, but Jimmy came in in the eighth and threw a double-play ball to get me out of the jam. Then, he had to pitch the ninth, which was real stressful. But he got out of it without giving up a hit. It was all pretty cool.”

And so was his lone stint with the Rangers, as he took the mound this spring and glanced in the hometown dugout to see teammates like former league MVP Josh Hamilton and American League batting champion Michael Young.

“It was nice of the Rangers to invite me and some of the minor league guys to Arlington, to let us play in an exhibition game,” said Tepesch, who was 9-0 with a 1.50 ERA for the 2007 state champion Blue Springs Wildcats.

“I thought we had a lot of people at our Blue Springs-Blue Springs South baseball games, but I’ve never pitched in front of that many people. I had to battle the nerves a little bit, but once I got on the mound, I was fine.”

He retired the last two hitters from a professional team in Mexico to help the Rangers claim a 13-5 victory.

“I wasn’t in a save situation, or anything like that,” Tepesch said by phone from Woodbridge, Va., where he will start against the Potomac Nationals tonight. “But it was so much fun to pitch in front of a crowd like that, in a big-league stadium.

The 6-foot-5 right hander got off to a rocky start this season, but is now 3-3 with a 3.88 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 51 innings.

“I didn’t get off to a terrible start,” said Tepesch, who has lowered his ERA from a previous season-high 4.86, “but it wasn’t the start I wanted. I had a couple of bad outings, but it’s still so early that I’ve had a couple of good performances – including being part of that no-hitter – and now I feel a lot more comfortable out on the mound.”

Tepesch also seems to have solid support from the Rangers’ front office.

“Nick is a guy who usually gets stronger as the year goes on,” Rangers Director of Minor League Operations Jake Krug said. “He’s off to a good start and we feel like this year will only get better for him. He’s got four solid average to plus pitches.  He’s a great make-up kid who we feel has a chance to be a durable starting pitcher in the big leagues.”

He keeps track of the local sports scene with weekly phone conversations with his former Blue Springs/Rod’s Sports A’s manager Mike Rooney and Independence baseball icon Clyde Kubli.
“I call Mike before I pitch,” said Tepesch, who won an American Legion state championship with the A’s, “and after I pitch. If I forget to call him, he’ll call me and chew me out.”

Tepesch chuckled at that comment.

“Mike and Clyde are really special to me,” said Tepesch, who was an Academic All-American in 2009 at MU. “I know how much they care about everyone who played for them, and they keep me up to date on everything happening in Blue Springs with high school and Legion ball.”

Tepesch is content to fine tune his game in the minors as he works to get stronger, learn more about his craft and even play a little golf.

“On our off days, my roommate and I can hit the beaches or go play golf,” said Tepesch, a 14th round draft pick by the Rangers in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft. “You can’t believe how many golf courses there are down here.

“It’s just nice to get away from everything and relax a little bit. I’m having the time of my life, but I’m working hard too. My dream is to make it to the big leagues. And I’m doing everything I can to make it happen.”