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Rice avenges loss to St. John’s

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Jordan Frair remembers the game vividly. He remembers standing in the dugout at Jack Kaiser Stadium, watching St. John’s Prep wildly celebrate a second consecutive CHSAA Class B intersectional title on a warm Monday night 11 months ago.

The Rice ace wanted to soak it all in and store it away until he met the Red Storm again.

The highly anticipated rematch, which was twice postponed because of inclement weather, finally came Saturday and the Raiders handed St. John’s Prep its first loss of the year, winning 6-5 at Monsignor Scanlan in the Bronx.

“Our first game got rained out and the second game got cancelled, so I haven’t pitched in a while and I’ve been waiting for this game,” Frair said. “We came out and wanted revenge from the last game.”

Frair, who spun a masterful two-hit shutout against the Red Storm in last year’s championship round, was hit hard early — he chalked that up to rust because of numerous postponements — but he cruised in the middle innings. The junior right-hander retired 10 of 11 and struck out five straight before the Red Storm rallied in the seventh.

St. John’s Prep (5-1) scored a pair of runs and had runners at second and third with one out, but Frair stepped up in a big way, striking out Matt Mullin for a fourth time and then inducing a weak comebacker by Andrew Ramos to end the game.

“We only had one out at the time,” said Frair, who fanned 12 in a complete-game victory. “My team helped me with the runs and it was my responsibility to help in that last inning get those last two outs.”

While the Red Storm graduated seven starters from last year’s team, everyone is back for Rice, which made its triumphant return to the varsity level a year ago.

That includes Kevin Nascimento, a starting guard on the Raiders basketball team. The senior centerfielder scored a pair of runs and had a huge RBI triple in the sixth inning to put Rice (6-1) in front 5-3, one inning after first baseman Treston Irby broke a three-all tie with a mammoth triple to left.

It was a humbling loss for a Red Storm team that came into the game undefeated after several blowouts. They were undone by six errors in what St. John’s Prep Coach Jason Bigeni said is “probably our worst game in three years.”

“I think this was good for us, it kind of knocks us down a peg,” Bigeni said. “Some of us walked in with our chests too high for no good reason.”

The two teams meet for a second time during the regular season Friday and, barring an upset, should again face each other in the ‘B’ title game next month.

“This is a nice win for us,” Rice Coach Brother William Sherlog said. “They beat us in the JV championship [two years ago] and last year’s championship. All our guys remember those losses.”

Updated 5:50 pm, October 10, 2011
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