Striking out 19 batters in a high school game seemed like an impossible task, even to Mark Faello. To do that and throw a no-hitter would be even more amazing.
But on April 17, the Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK junior mowed down the Herricks lineup in a 4-0 win. He walked only one batter, did not allow a hit and got strikeout after strikeout.
After the game, catcher Michael Cole excitedly asked Faello if he was aware of how many batters he struck out.
“I’m like, nah, but I’m pretty sure I had a lot,” Faello recalled. “He said, ‘You had 19!’ I was shocked because I never thought I could do that.”
For Faello, the no-hitter was the most special personal moment in a memorable season for the Hawks (22-5). Faello went 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA, 0.742 WHIP and 74 strikeouts in 56 ⅔ innings, leading his team into the Nassau Class AA championship. As a result, he received the Diamond Award as Nassau’s most outstanding pitcher Wednesday night.
“He’s the main reason why we went as far as we did this year,” coach John Givargidze said.
Faello, a junior, said having two full years of varsity experience entering 2017 helped him achieve the success his right arm produced. Givargidze said Faello began lifting weights with the varsity team as an eighth grader, never missing a session, and became the No. 3 starter as a freshman because of an injury to the incumbent.
Faello did not win a game that year as the Hawks went 7-12, but his arsenal and mental makeup impressed Givargidze.
“All four games he lost were pretty close games in the last few innings and we made a mistake here or there,” Givargidze said. “As a freshman, I was very pleased with the way he carried himself. He didn’t let things bother him.”
Faello viewed his freshman year as a valuable experience. He was not able to overpower stronger, more mature hitters back then, so he learned to locate and pitch strategically.
“Being called up to varsity freshman year was definitely a little nerve-wracking,” Faello said. “I felt at the beginning that I was undersized, I was kind of small. I was going up against basically men. Pitching against big hitters, it was definitely beneficial for me.”
After an impressive 2016, Faello dominated this spring. In addition to the no-hitter against Herricks, he allowed one earned run in nine innings of a playoff win over Calhoun.
“When he gets on the mound he just wants to win, whatever it takes,” Givargidze said. “He very rarely wants to come out of games. I have to grab the ball out of his hand and say you’re not going out.”
Faello also batted third in the order, playing shortstop, second base, third base or being the designated hitter when he wasn’t pitching. He hit .372 with a .450 on-base percentage, two home runs, 23 RBIs and 22 runs. He walked 13 times and struck out only nine times in 100 plate appearances.
With him and No. 2 pitcher Tyler Marinaccio back next season, the Hawks have high expectations.
“It was very upsetting to lose [to Massapequa] in the county finals,” Faello said. “Hopefully next year we’ll take it one game at a time, but if we get to the county championship, which I think we will, we’re going to say to ourselves let’s not end this like last year.”