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Prep happy to get back on diamond

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The St. Francis Prep baseball team has its rivals, games on its schedule that the team circles every year.

St. Edmund Prep isn’t usually one of those teams.

But since the Terriers hadn’t played in 20 days, extra motivation wasn’t necessary when they were finally able to step back onto the field Friday and face St. Edmund.

“It’s been such a long time. I was overwhelmed,” St. Francis Prep senior shortstop Nick Copelli said. “It felt so good. I was in my own little world. It was amazing. I was so happy.”

In its first games since the school was re−opened after the swine flu outbreak, St. Francis Prep swept St. Edmund, winning the opening game 5−2 and the nightcap 5−1 at SUNY Old Westbury Friday night.

“It was terrific to get on the field,” St. Francis Prep Coach Brother Robert Kent said. “Our pitchers were great. We didn’t hit that well, but we got by.”

Predictably, the Terriers were rusty at the plate — after all, their last look at live pitching came April 17 — but the team played flawless defense in both games. And St. Francis Prep pitchers Patrick Hornek, Chris Fesler, Vin Reda and Alex Fabian were solid.

Hornek scattered four hits in six innings, while Fesler picked up the save in Game 1, and Fabian followed a solid start by Reda by pitching 2 23 flawless innings of relief in the nightcap.

“Defense is definitely one of our stronger points and the pitching was amazing,” Copelli said. “Everybody pitched great and we made the plays. We looked good. I’m definitely happy.”

Kent said he only had one complaint on the night.

“The only thing I was disappointed about was that we had the bases loaded twice and didn’t get a run in — a ground ball, a fly ball or something like that,” he said. “Besides that it was great.”

Copelli was an exception, though. He had three hits and two RBIs in the opener and a clutch two−run bloop single with the bases loaded in Game 2.

“We had a lot of opportunities and we didn’t cash in,” he said. “We let a lot of runners stranded, but we got the hits when we needed, we got the win and now we’re back into it. I’m glad we were able to play before we get into this week with all these games. We needed that.”

Copelli said he went to sleep Friday night thinking about the highly anticipated doubleheader Saturday against Xaverian. But when he arrived at St. Francis Prep in the morning, he received the frustrating news.

According to Kent, heavy early morning rains saturated the field, rendering it unplayable Saturday.

The games will be made up at another point during what will be an incredibly busy two weeks for the Terriers.

“I was really angry,” Copelli said. “We want to go out there and make a statement and show everybody what we’ve got, but it keeps getting postponed and postponed.”

Teammate Billy Xouris said he was upset, too, but he saw a silver lining.

St. Francis Prep (4−0 CHSAA Brooklyn⁄Queens ‘A’) has Sunday off before likely playing nine games in seven days, attempting to make up for a host of postponed games because of the swine flu outbreak, inclement weather and poor field conditions.

“I’m not going to lie: I’m glad I got some rest,” said the senior second baseman, who scored two runs in the second game. “I was beat yesterday, but I’m pretty upset to miss those two games.”

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