|Nick Fanti and Trevor Bettencourt, image- Lakewood BlueClaws|
Fanti, who was a 31st round draft selection by the Phillies in 2015, was off to a terrific start this season entering the night, but his effort on Saturday night will certainly draw some major attention.
The 20-year-old lefty hurler came within one out of becoming just the third pitcher in team history to toss a complete game no-hitter.
He sailed through eight innings on the road, dominating the Columbia Fireflies (Mets affiliate), walking just two batters.
To open the final frame, Fireflies backstop Ali Sanchez reached on an error by Lakewood third baseman Danny Zardon. Next, Columbia third baseman Milton Ramos grounded into a fielders choice that erased Sanchez. Fireflies lead-off man, shortstop Andres Giminez, struck out swinging, putting the potential for history just one out away. Second baseman Luis Carpio then drew a walk.
With his pitch count at 113 on the evening and the game on the line, Lakewood skipper Marty Malloy made the call to his bullpen. Right-hander Trevor Bettencourt would record the final out on a strike out of designated hitter Michael Paez to notch his second save.
Bettencourt, a 25th round draft pick last year, felt some added pressure locking down the final out on Saturday night.
"I had to calm myself down," Bettencourt stated on the phone Saturday night. "It was the first time this year that I had to physically stop and take a breath on the mound and slow myself down. But it was cool especially 'cause me and Fanti are roommates back home in New Jersey and on the road in hotels.
"The first thing he did, he came out, gave me a hug and said, 'That's roommate love right there!'"
The 22-year-old UC Santa Barbara product, Bettencourt, wasn't surprised with the game's result.
"I think this is definitely huge, but I think it was just a matter of time before someone did it," Bettencourt said, expressing his confidence in his team's pitching staff.
The BlueClaws' pitching staff leads the Class A Sally League in ERA with a 2.63 mark.
Lakewood won by a final score of 1-0. Shortstop Jose Antequera plated the game's lone run on a sacrifice fly in the 8th inning.
It was the fifth no-hitter in BlueClaws history. The four previous no-no's: Keith Bucktrot (2001), Gavin Floyd (2002), Carlos Carrasco & Andy Barb (2006), and Jeb Stefan, Ramon Oviedo, and Chris Burgess (2013).
The outing for Fanti takes his season numbers through five starts to a 2-0 record with a 1.48 ERA, a 9.2 K/9 mark and a .133 batting average against.
For Lakewood, the victory was the team's seventh consecutive win. With a record of 18-12, the BlueClaws are in second place in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division, 1/2 game behind Hagerstown.