Win is birthday boy Perrone’s gift

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Long before he blew out the 17 candles on his birthday cake, Jason Perrone gave himself the best present he could ask for: a walk-off single to give St. Francis Prep a 6-5, nine-inning win against Archbishop Molloy at Cunningham Park last Thursday afternoon.

Perrone blooped a single over the drawn-in Stanner infield and was mobbed by his teammates after an emotionally charged victory.

It was Perrone’s second game-winning hit of the year. He also ended the game against St. Edmund April 16. But this hit in this situation meant so much more.

“Just seeing your teammates run after you, that’s the best feeling in the world,” Perrone said. “There’s nothing better.”

It was especially gratifying since Molloy won the first regular-season game between the two in similar fashion, with Jonathan Ramon hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh at Stanner Field.

“Right after that game we always had that in the back of our minds, especially against Molloy,” Perrone said. “It’s always a good game when we play them.”

And last Thursday it was an especially heated affair between the two Queens rivals, so much so that the umpires had to warn both teams about the back and forth chatter between the Queens rivals.

“I guess it’s emotions, tensions, some crazy plays,” St. Francis Prep Coach Brother Robert Kent said.

Molloy players weren’t happy with St. Francis Prep catcher James Paskor’s hard slide into second to break up a possible double play in the sixth inning and the Terriers were incensed when Molloy right fielder Jonathan Ramon went hard into second when Prep second baseman John Liquori did turn a double play in the seventh.

Liquori left the game with an injured throwing hand and Ramon and several St. Francis Prep players had words after what the Terriers coaching staff thought was a dirty play because Ramon rose up from his slide at the base.

“We really needed this game,” St. Francis Prep reliever Taso Stathopoulos said. “After our second baseman went down, it fired us up even more.”

Then there was a bizarre incident involving players on the Molloy bench and a few St. Francis Prep fans, who alleged the players threw baseballs at them. The umpire requested help from the Terriers coaches when the fans refused to move.

“A couple things happened that we didn’t like, they didn’t like,” Perrone said. “That’s Prep and Molloy.”

After jumping in front 3-2 in the third inning, Molloy (4-3) rallied to tie the game at five in the fifth on a mammoth triple to dead center by Phil Loprete, driving in Dean Sadik, who was four-for-five with three doubles.

Neither starter figured in the result as Molloy ace John Duggan was chased after four innings and St. Francis Prep’s Alex Fabian was relieved in top of the fifth after Loprete’s blast.

Stathopoulos picked up the win for St. Francis Prep (5-3) in five scoreless innings out of the bullpen. The 15-year-old freshman righthander scattered five hits, striking out five and walking two, one intentionally.

“My fastball was working today, my curveball was there when I needed it and the defense was behind me every play,” Stathopoulos said. “I knew they were ready.”

Perrone certainly was at the plate. Sam Gaitan and Paskor led off the ninth with back-to-back singles to left. Rob McKenna, who came in to play for the injured Liquori, attempted a sacrifice bunt, which was fielded by Sadik, who threw a strike to Loprete at third.

It appeared the throw beat Gaitan to the bag, but the umpire ruled the designated hitter safe, loading the bases for Perrone.

Sadik fell in a 3-0 hole before finally throwing a strike.

“I tried to be patient up there and make him throw me a fastball,” Perrone said. “At 3-1, I was just looking for a pitch middle-in and I kind of got lucky because the infield was in and got it over the first baseman’s head.”

Kent wasn’t surprised that Perrone came through in a big spot.

“So far he’s our lucky charm,” Kent said.

After a wild on-field celebration, Perrone said he had some big plans for the rest of the night.

“Now I’ve got to go home and do homework,” Perrone said.

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