NEW YORK – The road to the CHSAA finals had been relatively smooth over the past few games for Iona Prep, with the Gaels not having allowed a run in their last three games.
But facing Monsignor Farrell in the final game at Jack Kaiser Stadium at St. John’s University Friday night, the Gaels surrendered an earned run in the first and two more unearned runs in the third, finding themselves playing from behind for the first time in a while.
But that was no matter. The Gaels merely waited for their moments, scoring twice in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game and scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to capture the CHSAA AA championship, 5-4.
“We’ve battled all year,” Iona Prep head coach Ryan Mahoney said. “We always say, ‘It’s just business as usual,’ and they handled that well today. … To get down early and fight back just speaks volumes for our kids.”
Starting pitcher Anthony Piccolino hit Farrell’s Hayden Gumb to lead off the game, and after advancing on two fielder’s choices, he’d sneak home when Piccolino’s first offering to Farrell pitcher Vin Vitacco went to the backstop.
Iona Prep evened the score at one apiece in the bottom of the first when catcher Chris Dutra reached on a walk and then scored from first on a triple by Joe Lasorsa that went all the way to the center-field wall.
Farrell picked up two more runs in the top of the third when Joe Lorelli and Gumb reached on errors and were driven home by Rob Regina’s single to right field.
Pinch-hitting for Andrew D’Autilio in the ninth spot with one out in the bottom of the sixth, Joe Iengo ripped a double to the left-center field gap. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a trick slide around Farrell catcher Jerry Huntzinger after Piccolino hit a sac fly to left.
After taking the first pitch he saw in the back, Gaels center fielder Sam Roque took second on a wild pitch. Three pitches later, catcher Chris Dutra hit a ball deep in the hole to the third base side, and reached base when the throw from third eluded Farrell’s Michael Mattarazo, allowing Roque to score and tie the game at 4-4.
After getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the ninth, Christian Rosell ripped a triple to the right-field corner to lead off the ninth.
“I was just looking for the first fastball I’d see, to try to turn on it well,” said Rosell, who won the Jack Curran Award as the CHSAA tournament’s most valuable player. “Good things happen when you jump those fastballs.”
Two batters later, Michael Gorman singled to right field, scoring Rosell and sending the Gaels pouring out of the dugout, CHSAA Champions for the first time since 2012.
“It’s amazing,” Rowell said of the Gaels’ comeback win. “It shows we’re a resilient team. … We’ve been bouncing back, we’ve been fighting back all year.”
Turning point: Iengo’s pinch-hit double in the sixth, followed up by the trick slide around Huntzinger to draw the Gaels within one.
Stat line: Hayden Gumb of Farrell went 1 for 4 with a single, and reached on an error, a hit by pitch and a walk. He scored three of Farrell’s four runs.
Notable: Iona Prep pitcher Lasorsa won the Ron Patnosh award as the CHSAA’s player of the year. He’s thrown 14 scoreless innings in the playoffs, allowing just three hits while striking out 20.