St. Francis tired of waiting

Billy Xouris and his St. Francis Prep teammates were anxious to return to the baseball diamond after the swine flu scare closed school. Photo by Ted Levin/Five Boro Sports
By Five Boro Sports

Last Thursday was supposed to be a day of celebration, but instead it turned out to be a nightmare Billy Xouris won’t soon forget.

The senior second baseman on the St. Francis Prep baseball team went to the Fresh Meadows school on his 18th birthday, but he left with flu-like symptoms midway through the day. Xouris figured it was just another illness, until he heard about how many classmates were sick.

“Whenever I get sick, I usually get a fever and my throat is bothering me, but then when everyone was saying these are the symptoms of swine flu, I thought, ‘Oh, man, this is bad’ because I had every single one of them,” Xouris said.

Xouris didn’t go to the hospital or even his doctor, who simply told him to stay home and get some rest as a precaution. When he woke up on Friday, Xouris said he felt much better.

“It wasn’t as serious for me as everyone was making it out to be,” he said. “I was very, very fortunate.”

Finally, on Friday, Xouris was cleared to leave his house and participate in physical activities. So he did some running and planned to get to the batting cages for some much-needed batting practice.

That is the case with many of his teammates. When the school was closed for the week because of swine flu, all after-school activities were canceled. That meant no games or organized practices for the Terriers.

“All of our stuff is still in our lockers at school,” Xouris said. “We wanted to have a couple of practices on our own, but we couldn’t even do that because we didn’t have any of our equipment. Hopefully, everyone on the team is doing their own thing.”

That’s what Lebro Burnette has been doing. The junior left-hander has met up with teammates Denis Pruden, Ariel Gomerez and Carlo Cataldo during the forced vacation.

“I run, go to the gym and throw with them,” Burnette said. “Time off is needed, but too much time won’t do much good. Hopefully, it won’t hurt too much.”

While there were 47 confirmed cases of swine flu among the students and faculty at St. Francis Prep, the baseball team was relatively unaffected. Only Xouris and Chris Brudie, who was also “celebrating” a birthday last Thursday — his 17th — showed symptoms. Brudie, a junior third baseman, threw up at practice last Thursday and had a 101-degree fever.

Nearly one in three of 1,996 students polled by the city Health Department reported being sick with flu-like symptoms at some point since April 8.

“A lot of people in the school weren’t doing too good,” Burnette said. “It came as a shock. Nobody knew what was going on, but now a lot of people are feeling better.”

The biggest disappointment for senior shortstop Nick Copelli was the postponement of two back-to-back home games with defending CHSAA Class A intersectional champion Xaverian last week.

“Oh, we were so hyped about that, we couldn’t wait,” Copelli said. “Wednesday and Thursday, back-to-back, but then this whole thing happened. I was so disappointed.”

Weather permitting — and the it was not good for the early portion of the  week — the Terriers were scheduld to  play at least six games this week and probably do the same next week, as well. The final day of the regular season for Brooklyn/Queens A is scheduled for May 12, but there is some wiggle room to continue to play league games the rest of that week.

Beginning May 18, the Brooklyn/Queens division will play seeding games.

Longtime St. Francis Prep Coach Brother Robert Kent said there have been times the team has had to play a cluster of games. In 1986, he said there was a backlog of games because of inclement weather and in the 2005 intersectional playoffs, the Terriers advanced to the title game out of the losers’ bracket.

“We’ve just have to go out and do it,” Kent said. “We have confidence that our pitchers will keep us in games. They just have to throw strikes, we’ll field the ball and see what happens.”

Kent said that before the season, he believed his team had pitching depth.

“We’ll find out now,” he said.

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