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After scrambling from Reno to New York, Slade Cecconi starts for Diamondbacks

NEW YORK (AP) — Slade Cecconi was having a great round at Red Hawk Golf and Resort in Reno, Nevada, when he got a call on the 13th hole. His round ended and his journey began.

After a flight to San Francisco and a connecting flight to New York, the 24-year-old right-hander started for the Arizona Diamondbacks in Saturday's 10-5 win over the Mets and allowed one run over 4 2/3 innings.

“These last two days have been very long. I’m excited to get sleep tonight, get a good meal in after this,” he said.

Cecconi made his major league debut with the Diamondbacks last Aug. 2 and got his first strikeout when a hit by pitch call was changed to a foul tip in a video review. He went 0-1 with a 4.33 ERA over four starts and three relief appearances in a pair of stints, then started this season back at Triple-A Reno.

Brought back to the big leagues when Merrill Kelly hurt his pitching shoulder, Cecconi got his first win at San Francisco on April 21. He was demoted on May 21 after going 0-4 in his next five starts.

When Arizona ace Zac Gallen strained his right hamstring in the first inning of Thursday's series opener at the Mets, the Diamondbacks had Reno Aces manager Blake Lalli summon the rookie. The prospect had received a phone notification of Gallen's injury and was wondering whether he'd get the call.

“Went to the field, got all my bags and stuff, went back home, packed,” Cecconi recounted. “I was up at 4 a.m. to catch a flight at 6 a.m., flew for a total of right around seven hours that day, yesterday, got here in the first inning of the game, threw in the batting cages to get some work in and then today happened."

Cecconi threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of 18 batters and 46 strikes among 71 pitches. He averaged 94.6 mph with 34 fastballs, also throwing 27 sliders, eight curveballs and two changeups.

He allowed Mark Vientos' leadoff homer in the fifth and was replaced by Kevin Ginkel with two outs and a runner on. Cecconi gave up five hits, struck out four and walked none as the Diamondbacks stopped a five-game losing streak.

“Slade did a great job,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “It was 18 batters and I just wanted to secure things and get them under control. It’s an opportunity for Slade to win the game, I know. It was 4 2/3. It was very close, but this is a team game and Kevin Ginkel was able to secure the win for us.”

Cecconi said not having much preparation time might have been an advantage.

“Going out there and locking in my mechanics before the game and then staying aggressive,” he said. “We had a plan to be aggressive in the zone early and get ahead of those guys. So that was a singular focus.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb