By Laura Amato
Holy Cross manager Steven Adams knew that his team had its chance.
The Knights struggled at the plate all game, but managed to load the bases late and, with just one out, put one of their best hitters at the plate. Patrick Morrisey managed to reach base, forcing in a run, but the Holy Cross rally stopped right there.
Iona Prep starter Anthony Piccolino retired the next two batters that he faced and the Knights comeback stalled as quickly as it started. The squad fell 6-1 in the CHSAA elimination matchup Monday afternoon, wrapping up their season with a mix of disappointment and what-ifs.
“If we gap one, we win the game, probably. It changes the whole momentum,” Adams said. “They’re down, we’re up, you don’t know, we might win the game, 7-2. Who knows?”
Just one day after recording double-digit hits in a 7-5 victory over Kennedy to stay alive, Holy Cross managed just three hits total on the afternoon. As Adams tried to come up with an answer for his team’s anemic offense, he coined the popular phrase, “that’s baseball.”
“Yesterday we had 10 hits versus Kennedy, and then today, the pitcher just pitched a great game. That’s just the way the game works. It’s baseball; you see it every day,” he said.
A good deal of credit has to be given to Piccolino, however. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters that he faced, and allowed just one hit through the first five innings.
But Holy Cross starter Stephen Castro matched him in the early innings. Castro tossed three shutout innings to start the game, but was finally touched up in the fourth. A leadoff double from first baseman Joe Iengo and a sacrifice fly from Joseph Colaio-Coppola two batters later gave the Gaels a 1-0 lead.
Iona added one more run in the fourth to take a 2-0 advantage. Even though the Gaels couldn’t blow the game open early, Piccolino was confident that his team would eventually touch up Castro.
“We were pretty calm and relaxed because we felt that, knowing what we could do we were going to get this kid eventually and figure him out,” Piccolino said.
That came in the sixth inning, when the Gaels knocked Castro out of the game after he failed to retire either of the first two batters he faced. Phil Damanio entered in relief for Holy Cross, however he was unable to halt the Iona rally.
Damanio allowed both inherited runners to score, completing Castro’s day at five-plus innings pitched and four runs allowed. Two other runs scored in the inning thanks to a wild pitch and some suspect defense, and a five-run lead was more than enough for Piccolino heading into the seventh.
It was a tough finish, but Adams still managed to find a silver lining. He hugged his players and spoke with each of his seniors, expressing his gratitude for all they have done for the program.
“I just thanked them for their commitment to the program in the last four years, they’ve had a pretty good career,” he said. “This is the farthest this school has gone in 10 years, so they did what they could for the program and I thanked them for that.”