Herndon junior pitcher Michael Curcio was concerned. He had a perfect game going at Park View on Wednesday night, and his team was way ahead. Hornets Coach Greg Miller was starting to make substitutions, including at catcher, to spread out the playing time. Curcio inquired: Am I coming out?
Given the circumstances and low pitch count, Miller left Curcio on the mound to complete his five-inning perfect game in the 11-0 victory.
“I obviously was pretty happy about that,’ said Curcio, a junior varsity pitcher last season who is now 3-0 with no earned runs allowed in 17 innings. “I definitely felt good out there. I tried to put [the perfect game] in the back of my mind and go out and make pitches.”
Curcio struck out nine batters, and threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of the 15. Thirty-nine of his 52 offerings were strikes. Per baseball custom, the Hornets did not talk about the perfect game while it was going on, but at some point Miller did check pitching coach Dan Coghlan’s chart to confirm what he already knew.
Most no-hitters or perfect games feature a defensive gem that enabled or preserved it. Not this one. Just five routine groundouts and a flyout, plays as simple as when a teammate tossed Curcio the game ball afterward. So it was almost all his location and slider. Junior Justin Miller was the only Hornet with more than one hit.
“A perfect game at any level against any team is impressive, especially in high school,” Miller said. “You have to throw strikes. Even having a game with no walks is impressive. I don’t think he went to a three-ball count all game.”
Curcio’s parents, Michael and Sharon, saw about four-fifths of the gem. They had to leave because a younger son had a baseball game that night. They got word of the perfect game and congratulated Curcio before he could even tell them.
The Hornets (5-1), who face Loudoun Valley at noon Saturday before beginning Virginia AAA Concorde District play Tuesday at No. 8 Oakton, returned only one inning of pitching from last season, so Curcio's scoreless start to the season has been encouraging.
“We knew coming in that Michael would be one guy we’d rely on,” Miller said.