May 03, 2006
Finora Just Misses A No-No
Sometimes, on a rare occasion, a high school athlete slips into what's known as a "zone," where he or she flat out dominates the competition to deliver a performance that will be remembered for a lifetime.
On April 25, Joe Finora was in the "zone." Finora, a senior left-handed pitcher who anchors the defending
Suffolk County Class C champion Tuckers rotation, was one-out away from a no-hitter only to surrender an infield single and finish with a on-hit, career-high 17 strikeout complete game shutout in Mattituck's 5-0 win over Hampton Bays.
Only Mike Kovar's ground ball up the middle, which eluded second baseman Don Fahey long enough for the Baymen hitter to reach first, was the one small blemish on an otherwise perfect display of pitching.
"He was really in it," said Mattituck head coach Steve DeCaro. "Joe was dominant. It was a lot of fun to watch him pitch. After the game, I think he was a little shocked [that he had almost pitched a no-hitter], but he was happy with what he did out there on the mound and he was more happy that we won the game."
Finora struck out the side in the second, fifth, and sixth innings and appeared to get stronger as the game wore on. His velocity and movement on his pitches frustrated Hampton Bays batters all afternoon and what was equally impressive was that Finora walked only one Baymen batter while keeping his pitch count far below 100.
Twice during the game, Finora had instances of seven straight strikeouts and 11 of his career-high 17 strikeouts were of the swing and miss variety. The last Mattituck pitcher to strike out more batters in a game was former All-County selection Bret Moyer, who recorded 18 back in 2004.
"It was certainly Joe's best pitching performance in his four years at Mattituck," DeCaro said. "He was precise, he threw strikes, and he kept his pitch count low. It was one of the best pitched games that I've ever seen."
Mattituck scored a run in the second inning when Fahey singled, Keith Connell doubled, and Billy Amato drove in Fahey with an RBI singled. The Tuckers added four in the fourth inning starting with a single from Jake Sisson that was followed by a base hit off the bat of Connell, a walk drawn by Brian Tardiff, and a bases-loaded RBI single from shortstop Pat Claire.
Brian King then proceeded to hit a single up the middle to score Connell and Tardiff for a 4-0 lead and Claire scored the final run of the game when he raced home from third base after an attempted pickoff play resulted in the throw sailing over the Baymen's third basemen's head.
"Joe's been pitching great his last three starts and it couldn't come at a better time for us," DeCaro said. And when asked if Finora was aware of the rare gem of a game he was so close to achieving, DeCaro replied, "If he knew that he had a no-hitter going, he sure didn't say anything."
Instead, Finora, who went 7-0 last season, spoke with his actions; all 17 of them.