You never forget your first one.
And for Class A Columbia starter Anthony Kay, his first professional baseball win -- Sunday's 5-0 result against Hickory at Spirit Communications Park -- was especially unforgettable because it came in just his third outing since undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Video: Anthony Kay picks up fifth strikeout for Fireflies
"It was just awesome to be out there and help the team win," the Mets No. 14 prospect said. "Coming back from the surgery is just such a long process, and to be around baseball but not be able to pitch in games for a year was really tough. But I just kept with the process and it feels good to be out there and competing and playing with this team."
The Mets' 2016 first-rounder went under the knife soon after being drafted and did not throw a pitch for the organization until this season. Kay originally was taken by New York out of high school in the 39th round in 2013, but he opted to attend the University of Connecticut instead.
"I'm from New York, so it's awesome that I ultimately got to end up with the Mets organization," the Long Island native said. "I went to high school with [Mets pitcher Steven Matz] so that got me paying attention [to the organization] after he signed with them. It's a great place to be."
Gameday box score
Kay (1-0) scattered three hits and a walk while striking out five Sunday. In his first start on April 8, the southpaw allowed two hits and a walk with four strikeouts over four scoreless frames in a 10-5 victory over Augusta. On April 14, Kay surrendered three runs on four hits over six-plus innings and didn't factor into the decision in a 7-6 win over Asheville.
"I felt pretty good out there today. I think I'm just starting to get in the groove of things," the 23-year-old said. "I think I finally started to pitch more today rather than just throw. I think my first two times, I was just running on adrenaline. I was more settled. I probably could have gone out for another inning if they needed it."
Kay started and finished strong. He retired 12 of the first 14 hitters, and after getting into longer counts, he sat down the final four Crawdads he faced.
"My fastball was definitely my best pitch," the Huskies product said. "I located it well on both sides of the plate and I really went at guys with it. I used it to get ahead and then went to my curveball and changeup. I worked on my curveball a lot this offseason and it's really come along. I'm definitely starting to get a good feel for it. And my changeup I haven't really used that much, but I can go to it to put guys away when I have to."
In the fifth, Kay picked off Ryan Dorow straying too far off the bag at first. It was Kay's second pickoff of the season.
"That's something I take a lot of pride in," he said. "It's always something I've worked on, holding runners on and changing my delivery and trying to be quicker to the plate. I don't want any guys swiping a bag on me and getting into scoring position."
The Fireflies gave Kay an early lead when Matt Winaker smacked an RBI triple -- Columbia's South Atlantic League-leading 11th triple of the season. Winaker crossed the plate on a run-scoring groundout by Jeremy Vasquez.
Rigoberto Terrazas crossed the plate twice and New York's No. 28 prospect Quinn Brodey drove in the Fireflies' final run on an RBI groundout.
Vasquez walked three times and his eight free passes on the season lead the Sally League. He has reached base safely in all 16 games.
Carlos Hernandez relieved Kay in the seventh and threw two clean innings with three strikeouts. The righty has not surrendered a run in his 8 1/3 frames for Columbia this season. Righty Trey Cobb closed out the game with a clean ninth with a strikeout.
For Hickory, Reid Anderson (1-2) experienced his first rough outing of the season. He was tagged for four runs on eight hits in six innings. The righty, who struck out five and walked three, entered the day's action with a 0.71 ERA.