By Robert Cole
The Francis Lewis High School baseball team faced off against the Monroe Eagles in the 49th annual James Monroe Campus Holiday Invitational Baseball Tournament and fell 8-1 to last season’s PSAL champions.
“We have a little bit of work to do,” Francis Lewis coach John Palladino said after the game. “But I like what we have done so far in the preseason.”
Things got tough early for the Patriots in the non-conference game, as Monroe jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. Mental mistakes, walks and errors led to four runs for Eagles, putting Francis Lewis in a hole it could not dig itself out of.
An error allowed Monroe’s first run to cross the plate. Back-to-back Monroe batters were hit by pitches, which resulted in three more runs coming across as the Eagles jumped out to a 4-0 advantage.
The Patriots responded in the top of the second inning, adding a run to cut into Monroe’s led. Francis Lewis drew four consecutive walks, making the score 4-1. But that was as close as the Patriots would get.
Monroe’s pitching staff quickly settled down, recording nine more strikeouts — for a total of 12 — to keep the Patriots’ bats silent for the remainder of the game.
The Eagles continued to take advantage of Francis Lewis mistakes to add to their lead, taking on four more runs to make the score 8-1, which would prove to be the final score.
“I felt like we started to clean it up later in the game,” Palladino said. “We started to show more promise and had some good at-bats later in the game. The score does not reflect that, but we started playing better as the game went on.”
Despite the tough loss, Palladino believes his team can put together a nice season in 2018.
“Our goal is to be a playoff team as we have been in the past, and we are well on our way to working toward that,” Palladino said.
Despite the loss, Francis Lewis sports a 1-0 record in the PSAL AAA Eastern League, and — weather permitting — the squad hopes to have an opportunity to work out more preseason kinks before resuming league play April 9 against Cardozo.