Seventy-two days ago, when Nick Fanti tossed the first 8.2 innings of his team’s no-hitter against Columbia, the low Class A Lakewood lefthander didn’t feel that his stuff was as crisp as usual coming out of the bullpen after his pregame warmups. He felt the same way on Monday afternoon, and went out and dominated again. This time, though, he finished what he started.
“It was exactly the same,” Fanti said. “This might have been worse. The pitching coach (Brian) Sweeney came up to me while he watching my bullpen. I was throwing pretty bad, it was all over the place. … But he said, ‘You’ll be all right.'”
Sweeney was right.
Fanti retired 27 of the 28 hitters he faced against Charleston and had this no-hitter all to himself. The 2015 31st-rounder struck out a career-best 12 hitters in the process. The only batter to reach, Brandon Wagner, did so on a walk.
And just like his last no-hitter, which was finished by reliever Trevor Bettencourt, the result of the game was in the balance in the ninth inning, too. The BlueClaws won 1-0, and had just two hits. Both hits came from Fanti’s catcher, Henri Lartigue, whose homer gave Lakewood all the offense it would need to win.
Fanti said he realized he had something going when he’d gotten through the order the first time without allowing a hit, but he didn’t think a whole lot of it simply because going three no-hit innings isn’t particularly rare. Once he’d made it through the order a second time, however, then it really began to crystallize.
“That’s usually when my pitch count is getting up and guys are getting ready in the bullpen,” he said. “I looked down there and nobody was getting ready. I looked at the scoreboard and there were still zeroes up there.”
Plus, the players who would usually chat with him or sit by him in the dugout were staying away. Even his catcher and manager would only nod if Fanti asked them anything.
Like any no-hitter, however, when Fanti got the last out—a flyball to center fielder Mickey Moniak—there was an overwhelming sense of relief.
“I’m really excited about it,” he said, “and it was nice to finally finish one.”