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Stepinac shows class as Fordham wins the City Championship

Posted Monday, June 15, 2009 by 5 boro sports

Stepinac shocked by Fordham Prep in sloppy affair

Stepinac's Jackson Markey (r.) and Anthony Muccio congratulae each other. Photo by Damion Reid
Stepinac's Jackson Markey (r.) and Anthony Muccio congratulae each other. Photo by Damion Reid

The game and season were over for the Archbishop Stepinac baseball team. It was a heartbreaking, 5-3 loss for the second-seeded Crusaders against No. 6 Fordham Prep in the CHSAA Class A intersectional championship game Sunday at St. John’s University.

All Stepinac had to do was win once in two games and the Crusaders had two separate leads in Game 2 after dropping the opening game, 9-4. But coach Pat Duffy made every single one of his players stand outside the dugout and clap as Fordham Prep players and coaches were receiving their plaques.

“Show come class,” Duffy said. “It’s a baseball game. We know a lot of those kids personally.”

In fact, Duffy, a Bronx native, coached many of the Rams players with the Throgs Neck Little League. A handful of players from both teams are from the East Bronx. Stepinac’s Mike Annunziata and Fordham’s Sal Annunziata (no relation) grew up in the same neighborhood.

“It kind of brought me back to [Little League] all-star games,” Mike Annunziata said of playing against kids from his neighborhood.

Stepinac (16-7) had a rough day, though. The Crusaders made seven errors combined in the two games. One big one hurt the most. In the top of the seventh with the game tied at 3, Fordham Prep’s George Perrotta grounded to third with the bases loaded. Anthony Muccio fired home for a force out and catcher Eddie Martinez threw to first for the potential inning-ending double play.

But Perrotta screened first baseman Rich Reilly, who could not come up with Martinez’s throw. The ball rolled down the left-field line as Dom Dimele and Jesus Jaile came in to score to give the Rams the lead, 5-3.

“It wasn’t good,” Duffy said. “We came out very stale. I don’t think we made [seven] errors all season. … We made the plays all year. We were a marquee defensive team.”

Added shortstop Steven Martinez: “It was an overall lack of energy. It wasn’t there today at all.”

Stepinac was making its first CHSAA Class A intersectional championship appearance since 1962. It seemed like it would take that long for the Crusaders to get this game in, too. After they beat Monsignor Farrell on Tuesday to earn a title round berth, they waited five days before playing again.

Meanwhile, Fordham Prep (19-9) beat Xaverian on Wednesday before rain washed out games Thursday and Friday. Rams ace Sal Lisanti came back Saturday and twirled a masterful, three-hit shutout of Farrell. They had all the momentum.

Fordham also had the luxury of three of its main pitchers on relatively good rest Sunday. But Stepinac did have its No. 1 starter Mike Bradshaw go in the first game and No. 2 Eddie Byrne pitch in Game 2.

“The rain and rainouts allowed them to have guys on full rest,” Duffy said. “But it really doesn’t take away the fact that we kicked the ball around today.”

The Crusaders have won back-to-back Bronx/Westchester ‘A’ division titles and have a good core of kids coming back. But junior Mike Annunziata said there will be one main thing gnawing at him in the coming weeks and months.

“I just feel bad for the seniors,” he said.

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