Shortly after Monday’s Class B quarterfinal against Pleasantville was halted due to thunderstorms, Croton-Harmon coach Eric Rosen approached starting pitcher Chris Colombo.
The game was suspended in the third inning and would be picked back up on Tuesday at Pace University. And Rosen needed to know to which pitcher he would be giving the ball.
“Our first thought was, ‘What are we going to do with pitching?’ ” he said. “I talked to Colombo about how he felt about coming back, and he was all for it. He didn’t even let me finish my sentence. He just gave me a thumbs up.”
The fifth-seeded Tigers were trailing by a run when Colombo left the mound on Monday, but the junior right-hander returned to hold down the fourth-seeded Panthers on Tuesday. Pleasantville wouldn’t score another run, while Croton would rally for a 5-2 win.
The victory clinched the Tigers’ first trip to the semifinals since 2005, back when they were a Class C school. They’ll travel to play top-seeded Briarcliff on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
“It’s been a long, grueling process, and we’re ecstatic with where we are now,” said Rosen, who took over the program five years ago and endured losing seasons in his first two. “We took our lumps the first two years. The first two years were tough for us. I give a lot of credit to my assistant coaches, Jay Tomasulo and Kevin Brunelle. They’ve been instrumental. At first we thought it would be a little quicker, but we started to turn the corner in that third year.”
The rise of the program coincided with the rise of Scott Giordano, a do-it-all player who Rosen said “put this team on his back to carry us to where we are.”
Giordano threw a complete game in Croton’s first-round win over Rye Neck on Saturday, and Rosen called on him to get the final three outs against Pleasantville after Colombo gave up a leadoff single in the seventh inning.
“I wasn’t taking any chances today,” Rosen said. “If we were going to go down, we were not going down without our ace on the mound.”
A freshman sparked the fourth-inning rally that put the Tigers ahead.
JV call-up Grady Stevenson delivered a pinch-hit RBI single to tie the score at 2-2 before Brian Mackay put Croton ahead with a run-scoring single of his own. Mike Bello’s RBI single and Colombo’s sac fly added a couple of insurance runs in the seventh.
Briarcliff 9, Westlake 1: At No. 1 Briarcliff, Johnmichael Dolgetta went 2 for 4 with two doubles, a run scored and two RBI and Vin Hertz added two RBI. Cam Johnson struck out five over four innings for the win and Jack Ryan provided two hitless innings in relief with four strikeouts.