By Joseph Staszewski
Archbishop Molloy is a win away from completing a goal it hoped to accomplish last season — honoring former Coach Jack Curran with a CHSAA baseball title.
The Stanners snuck past St. Joseph by the Sea 3-2 in nine innings Sunday at Iona Prep to reach the final of CHSAA Class AA baseball intersectional championship tournament.
They face either Sea or Xaverian 7:30 p.m. Friday at MCU Park in Brooklyn, needing one win to end the double-elimination tournament. A loss would push the series to a winner-take-all game at St. John’s Sunday.
Curran, who coached Molloy for 55 years, died two years ago. The legendary head man won 17 baseball crowns. This group — especially the seniors — wants to bring the title back to Molloy.
“I feel like the whole team is ready to win the last game in honor of Coach Curran,” left fielder Karl Klesin said. “We couldn’t quite do it last year, but it’s been on our mind and now we have our shot.”
Molloy (18-3) wouldn’t have the opportunity without the play of Klesin against the Vikings (17-4). He had a hand in all three Stanners runs. Klesin doubled in the top of the fourth inning and scored on an error to give his team a 1-0 lead. His RBI single in the fifth handed Molloy a 2-1 lead, and he scored the winning run with a bases-loaded walk in the ninth.
Klesin, who made two highlight reel worthy catches in the contest, denied Sea the victory with one of the grabs. He raced back to rob Angelo Navetta of a potential game-winning hit. Stanners Coach Brad Lyons said he had just finished telling Klesin not to let anything behind him or Michael Russell would likely score from first.
“I thought it was way over my head at first, but I knew I couldn’t drop this,” Klesin said.
Pitcher James McCleary started the game for Molloy, but ace Anthony Catinella came on in the fifth to pitch five innings of relief. The Stanners got the winning run off Sea reliever Steve Withers. He had recorded seven of his nine outs via strikeout when Molloy lost to Sea 4-3 in nine innings with the top seed on the line earlier in the season.
“They were ready to play,” Lyons said of the Stanners. “They wanted another shot at those guys.”
Molloy may get one more shot at Sea, but beating the Vikings won’t be the Stanners’ main motivation. The Stanners want to claim the title to celebrate their former coach and complete their season-long goal.
“If you can’t get up for this game, then you need to be checked for a pulse, I think,” Lyons said.
Fordham Prep 4, St. Francis Prep 1: Fordham Prep scored three times in the first inning with help from an error and a two-run double by Sebastiano Santorelli to grab a 3-0 lead against Terriers ace Dylan Lawrence.
The Rams extended the advantage to 4-1 on a Santorelli RBI single in the second inning.
“It really crushed our spirits to be down 3-zip in the first inning,” said designated hitter Connor McGee, who had two hits.
St. Francis Prep got a run back in the fourth when an error plated Matt Walsh. Lawrence, who gave up five hits, didn’t allow another hit after the first two innings.
But the big hits eluded the Terriers with runners on second and third in the fourth inning and with bases loaded and two outs in the fifth.
“We didn’t hit and we had a bad first inning,” SFP Coach Brother Robert Kent said. “You can’t do that in the playoffs.”