By Joseph Staszewski
Like Archbishop Molloy, Ruben Jimenez could have gone down quietly. Neither did.
With two strikes, the Stanners junior second baseman lined a walk-off single to left-center in the bottom of the eighth inning to give his team a thrilling 3-2 CHSAA Brooklyn-Queens baseball victory over division-leading Xaverian in Briarwood April 22. The hit against Xaverian ace Alex Passarella scored Liam Coen, who led off the frame with a booming double to right-center.
“He had me down on two strikes, I’ll admit you know, it is a little jittery,” Jimenez said. “He gave me a fast ball down the middle. That’s what you do.”
It capped a late-inning rally after Molloy found itself down 2-0 and without a hit through five innings, despite a strong outing from starter Anthony Romero. The Stanners, who had worked eight walks to that point, finally broke through against Xaverian reliever Nick DeSalvo in the sixth.
“This is the type of game that we need to show we can always fight back, especially against a good team like Xaverian” Jimenez said. “It just shows us how good of a team this is.”
Back-to-back singles by Bobby Schmuck and John Herring and a walk to Jack Turner loaded the bases with no one out. Billy Hatzinikolaous delivered an RBI single to right-center against Passarella and the Stanners tied the score at 2-2 when Mike Cortez was hit by a pitch to force home a run. Molloy coach Brad Lyons saw his team display plenty of resolve, including his pitchers stranding 11 runners on base in the game.
“They showed me something today,” he said. “They are pretty good.”
Junior reliever Yanni Orfanidis needed to be better than good to work his way out of major jams in the seventh and eighth innings. The converted submariner—after breaking his arm twice throwing overhand—left the bases full of Clippers with one out in the seventh and then kept Louis Mandile at third, after he led off with a triple to start the eighth.
“A lot of adrenaline,” Orfanidis said. “I’m just trying to do my job out there and get guys out, just trying to get us back in [the dugout] and get the runs and win the game.”
The victory keeps the Stanners (5-3) in the race for the division title, dropping first-place Xaverian to 7-2 and second-place Monsignor McClancy falling to 5-2. Molloy didn’t let an important game get away from it, thanks to showing a lot of heart.
“It was all represented in the last inning,” Orfanidis said. “It’s scrappy. That’s the word that describes us. We are very scrappy and it showed.”