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It was a game that had to be seen to be believed. And even then, I’m not sure I believe what I saw. I’m talking about the remarkable CHSAA Class B intersectional title game between St. John’s Prep and Cathedral Prep played late into the night Sunday at St. John’s University.
The following is a little timeline I put together from one unforgettable night.
5:30 p.m. — Leaving my home, I am somewhat relieved that, after nine long months, the high-school sports season is coming to an end. And what a way to go out, a baseball championship between two schools on a gorgeous late spring evening.
5:35 p.m. — I just pulled into a gas station on Francis Lewis Boulevard and spent $61.05 to fill my car. I’m less enthused now.
5:45 p.m. — There’s a palpable buzz and a large crowd at Jack Kaiser Stadium as I pull into the parking lot at St. John’s. Oh wait, it’s for the Class A game between Xaverian and Moore Catholic.
6:00 p.m. — The Xaverian/Moore game just went into extra innings. This is going to be a long night.
7:11 p.m. — Dan O’Brien of St. John’s Prep just throws the first of what will be about 200 pitches on the night. The game is finally underway.
7:45 p.m. — The Red Storm bust out of the gate to score four first-inning runs, knocking Cathedral starter Sean DeBiase out of the game. Steve Trudden enters the game. He went the distance three nights earlier in a three-hitter against St. John’s Prep.
8:38 p.m. — Cathedral rallies for three fifth-inning runs. Suddenly, we have a game on our hands.
9:06 p.m. — O’Brien is still on the mound for the Red Storm and he’s one out away from clinching the school’s first Class B title since 1987. The junior hurler wasn’t even born then. Now I feel old.
9:10 p.m. — DeBiase is Cathedral’s lone hope, but, before O’Brien can throw a pitch, the sprinkler system at Jack Kaiser Stadium goes off. The umpire and almost everyone sitting behind home plate turns around and looks at those of us in the press box. Hey, I didn’t do it. Although I do wonder aloud to my fellow reporters if this gives the Crusaders new life.
9:15 p.m. — Finally the sprinklers are turned off and DeBiase steps in, taking the first pitch deep into right field. DeBiase motors around the bases and scores the game-tying run on an inside-the-park home run. No, really, that’s what happened.
9:20 p.m. — With a runner at second for the Red Storm in the bottom of the seventh, Cathedral shortstop Mike Knott walks the ball back to Trudden on the mound. Third baseman Cory Bannon also starts to walk to the mound when Teo Ramirez breaks for third. Knott then tosses to Bannon, who tags Ramirez at the bag. Just when I thought I saw everything, Cathedral pulls the old hidden ball trick.
10:05 p.m. — My girlfriend Kathianne calls, wondering why I’m not home yet for dinner considering I told her I’d be there about 9 p.m. I offer an explanation. I don’t think she believes me.
10:28 p.m. — Cathedral takes its first lead of the game, Matt Knott scoring on a wild pitch by reliever Mike Zapata. O’Brien, who is now playing first, looks gutted.
10:35 p.m. — In this marathon game, Cathedral’s lead was short-lived as a result of a wacky and controversial balk call that saw the St. John’s Prep batter call time while Trudden was in his wind-up, the umpire not granting his request and then Trudden halting before throwing a pitch. This would probably be the defining moment of the game if not for the hilarity that preceded this.
11:13 p.m. — Finally. It ends. Noel Vargas, who received a cut below his eye on a bad hop playing third base in the third inning, i.e., several hours before, sends a bloop into short right field as Mike Colon comes around to score the winning run for the Red Storm. Oh, and Vargas picks up the win in relief.
11:25 p.m. — St. John’s Prep is still celebrating while I interview Red Storm coach Jason Bigeni. I see out of the corner of my eye a few players sneaking what looks to be a bottle of champagne to douse their coach with. Thankfully, Bigeni intervenes. “Whatever you’re going to do to me, do it over there,” he said, saving us from being soaked and me from an impossible explanation when I finally arrive home.
12:11 a.m. — The interviews are over, so too is the short drive down Francis Lewis Boulevard home. I try to explain the remarkable course of events to my girlfriend, who loathes baseball, but her eyes are glazed over. Then again, so are mine. Time to sleep.
Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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