By Joseph Staszewski
St. Francis Prep Coach Brother Robert Kent didn’t sidestep or overanalyze the reason behind his club’s first defeat of the season.
The longtime headman felt he could have prevented St. Raymond’s from storming ahead in the bottom of the fifth inning had he brought in a relief pitcher for lefty starter Victor Persad a batter earlier.
“I left him in too long,” Kent said. “That’s what the bottom line is.”
The Ravens, the defending city champions, scored four runs on just one hit in the fifth for a 4-3 comeback victory over the Terriers in CHSAA Class AA baseball at St. Joseph’s School of the Deaf last Friday.
Persad appeared to be out of the bases-loaded, one-out jam with St. Francis Prep still ahead by a run, but he bobbled a slow roller back to him and could not throw the tying run out at the plate. Kent thought that should have been it for him.
“I was hoping he’d get out of that inning, but I think he got tired,” Kent said. “I should have taken him out after that play at the plate. It’s my fault.”
Persad, one of the Terriers’ top two starters, hit the next batter in the foot to bring across what proved to be the winning run. He allowed two earned runs over 4 2/3 innings and just two hits, including a two-run single to William Delacruz in the fifth.
Persad walked three and struck out six. Reliever Devin Coy fanned Elishah Garrett to end the frame and tossed a perfect seventh inning, thanks to a diving catch in centerfield by A.J. Figueroa.
But the damage was already done.
“We were winning 3-0 until the fifth inning and defense killed us,” said right fielder Connor McGee, who had two hits, a run scored and an RBI. “We couldn’t make plays and our bats stopped at the end.”
St. Francis Prep (3-1) was able to score twice in the third following hits by Sean Cunningham and McGee and an error on a ground ball to first base hit by John Kisk. The Terriers extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth on a throwing error by St. Ray’s pitcher Reynaldo Guillen in a pick-off throw to second.
St. Francis Prep put itself in position to get on the board again in the top of the sixth against Delacruz when Nick Colak singled and Matt Walsh walked. They were moved over on a bunt by Alex Villano to put runners on second and third with two outs. Cunningham was hit by a pitch to load the bases before St. Ray’s pitcher Adam Delacruz came on and got a strikeout and a pop-out to end the threat.
“We had to answer back,” Kent said. “We didn’t do that.”
Despite the loss to the Ravens (1-2), Kent is happy with his team in the early going, and the coach earned his 600th win with SFP against Holy Cross Monday.
It’s a club, he said, that will rely on pitching and defense with Persad, Dylan Lawrence and John Michelli at the top of the rotation. The Terriers lack power in the lineup and will need timely hitting, which eluded them late against St. Ray’s.
“The feeling is pretty good so far,” McGee said. “This is a tough loss. I’m sure we are going to bounce back pretty easily and we are going to come back strong.”