The first batter Mike Carey faced scored, putting his Greater Pittston team behind before it ever batted.
Carey pitched the first half of the June 30th game in rain, which ultimately led to a delay while he was facing his biggest predicament of the day.
None of those obstacles, however, was able to throw Carey off his game.
Carey returned from the rain delay with three straight strikes that pointed him toward completing the no-hitter that carried Greater Pittston over neighboring West Side, 4-1, in a Wyoming Valley League Senior American Legion game at Atlas Field.
“At first, I thought I was going to have a little trouble because of the ball being wet,” said Carey, who walked Nick Gushka to start the game. “It was hard getting my breaking ball, getting on top of it and making sure it was moving and hitting my spots.”
Gushka advanced on an error and scored on a Jeremy Zezza sacrifice fly.
The pitching of Corey Lescavage kept West Side, a first-year team, in position to threaten a win over the defending champions.
When rain halted the game for eight minutes in the top of the fourth inning, the teams were still tied, 1-1, and West Side had two men on with two out and a 2-0 count.
“I got to sit and think about it and think about how I would come out and get out of the jam,” Carey said.
Carey responded with a strikeout on two straight fastballs and a knuckleball.
After Greater Pittston broke through for three runs in the bottom of the inning, Carey was no longer battling just to pull out a win. Attention turned to the no-hitter.
“In the sixth inning, my buddies brought it up,” Carey said. “I was getting a little nervous because talking about it is bad luck.”
Baseball superstition aside, Carey finished strong. He got six outs on the final five batters, including a double play to end the sixth inning and a strikeout to clinch the win.
Carey finished with seven strikeouts while walking three batters, hitting one and allowing an unearned run.
“With the rain, I was just trying to pitch for contact,” said Carey, who last threw a no-hitter in a Little League all-star game six years ago. “I was trying not to walk too many batters.”
A recent Wyoming Area graduate, Carey faced many of his younger high school teammates who are part of the West Side program.
Jordan Zezza, another recent Wyoming Area graduate, had the game’s only extra-base hit. He doubled and scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the first to allow Greater Pittston to tie the game.
Trent Grove, Joe Gavenonis, Matt Mott and Carey all had hits in the three-run fourth inning.
Grove and Gavenonis started the inning with singles. Grove scored the game-winning run on a Jake Granteed groundout.
Mott singled in Gavenonis and scored on Carey’s single.
Granteed and Justin Martinelli also had hits for Greater Pittston.
Jeremy Zezza pitched two hitless innings of relief, allowing hits to only the first and last batters he faced, for West Side.
West Side won its previous two outings, putting together its first winning streak.
“We’re getting two-thirds of the game,” West Side manager Ron Musto said after the first of the consecutive wins. “We usually get good pitching and we usually make all the routine plays in the field.
“Unfortunately, you can’t steal first base. We’ve had trouble hitting.”