If anyone is to beat the Xaverian Clippers as the 2008-09 Catholic baseball season develops, count the Stanners of Archbishop Molloy among the borough’s likely dragon-slayers.
On their side, they have the pitching of Christopher Franzese, whose unimpressed reaction to his own no-hitter tells you all you need to know about the confidence of Molloy’s pitching staff.
Franzese, a senior, threw his no-no on April 13 against St. Edmund’s of Brooklyn, notching 10 strikeouts in an 11-0 victory. He says that he knew before the game that a no-hitter was on the tips of his fingers – and in fact, that he has that feeling often.
“It depends on whether my curveball is breaking that day,” he said.
As soon as the Stanners scored three runs in the first inning, Franzese became the story. After that, the only thing in doubt was whether he would concede a hit.
While it is customary for baseball players to avoid contact with a pitcher working on a no-hitter, so as not to jinx him by saying anything distracting, Franzese observed no such behavior. His teammates, it seemed, were every bit as calm as he was.
“Nah, it was pretty casual,” he said. “I’m a likable guy on the team, so everyone talks to me.”
That calm was interrupted by a quick jolt in the seventh and final inning, when Franzese walked two consecutive batters with two outs. He wasn’t happy with the umpire’s calls and was concerned that he might walk in a run. But after he retired his final batter, his exit from the mound was quiet and nonchalant.
No-hitter? No big deal. Just beat Xaverian.
The Stanners got their first chance on Thursday, April 23, when they blew an early lead in a game that Franzese said the Stanners should have won. “I think we have the best shot to beat them [out of the Queens teams],” he said. “I think we’re going to beat them next time, definitely.”
The squads face off again on Wednesday, May 6, with Molloy hosting.
Franzese, who emulated his father and brother when he started playing little league baseball at age five, points to simply “pitching well for the rest of the year” as his personal goal for this season, and a city championship as his goal for his team.
And why not? The Stanners have a surplus of talented pitchers, from Pat Brown to Chris Mignoli to junior hurlers Robert Bacchioni and Vinny Gatto.Next year, Franzese will pitch for Long Island University-Brooklyn, about which the tongue-in-cheek senior finally offers a little emotion.
“They’ve got a great athletic training program, and it’s a beautiful campus – and I want to play Division I,” he said.
A perfect fit, then, for a confident baseball player from Briarwood who likely has much more success to foretell.