WHITE PLAINS – With each passing inning, Anthony Piccolino and Iona Prep were growing more impatient.
The Gaels were deadlocked with rival Stepinac on Wednesday, so Piccolino and his teammates decided to get creative heading into the 11th inning.
“It got to the point where we were trying anything to do it,” he said. “In the last inning, we actually did a little Italian (superstition) that is supposed to be bad luck for the other team. They walked a couple of kids and we got a hit, so we were all going crazy. In baseball, you’ll use anything that you can get.”
Whether it was because of the ritual from the old country or not didn’t matter.
All that mattered was that Joe LaSorsa finally broke the tie with a sharp RBI single to right-center field, giving Iona Prep a 2-1 win in a game that was beginning to feel like it may never end.
“It’s a great feeling because everyone always wants to be the guy in that position,” LaSorsa said. “I was just glad today that I was able to help my team get the win and do whatever I could. … It’s a great day to be a Gael.”
LaSorsa’s heroics were proceeded by brilliant performances from a pair of lefties, Piccolino and Stepinac’s Austin Mercado. They both pitched into the eighth inning and didn’t give either lineup much breathing room.
Piccolino was replaced by right-hander Marty Durkin, who threw four scoreless innings in relief for the win. He provides the Gaels with another quality arm after their top two of LaSorsa and Piccolino.
“Everywhere you see Picc and LaSorsa, Picc and LaSorsa — but people sleep on Marty,” Piccolino said. “He’s is a great kid, and he worked extremely hard in the offseason. He still lifts every single day.”
Player of the game: Anthony Piccolino, Iona Prep — Prior to Nick Antenucci’s RBI single in the sixth that tied the score at 1-1, the junior had not allowed a hit that left the infield. He finished with seven strikeouts and threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of 29 batters that he faced.
“I was just throwing two-seamers away to the righties and getting ground balls and strikeouts,” he said. “It was working well.”
Turning point: Momentum seemed to be in Stepinac’s favor after Antenucci tied the score, but the play that ended the eighth inning awoke the Gaels. Edwin Feliciano broke for home on a passed ball that would have given the Crusaders a walk-off win, but Chris Dutra flipped the ball to Durkin, who was covering home plate and got the tag down just in time.
“As soon as that play happened, we knew that we were going to win,” LaSorsa said.
Stat line: Iona Prep (8-3) — Piccolino pitched seven innings on 95 pitches (62 strikes), allowing one earned run on six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. Durkin pitched four innings in relief on 34 pitches (27 strikes), allowing no runs and no walks with two hits and four strikeouts. Piccolino, LaSorsa and Christian Rosell had two hits apiece, and Domenico Bruzzese had an RBI. Stepinac (10-4) — Mercado pitched eight innings on 111 pitches (83 strikes), allowing no earned runs and no walks with seven hits and four strikeouts. Jack Ryan and Tim O’Connor each had two hits, and Antenucci had the lone RBI.
Quotable: “We saw the Lohud Rankings, and we were fifth and they were ninth, so we knew they were coming as hard as they could,” Piccolino said. “They have the football thing on us, but we can’t let them get baseball.”