Bishop Ford scored two runs in the first three innings, a lead that held up until the bottom of the sixth. No. 1 Xaverian was on the brink of an upset loss for the second consecutive day, one that would have ended what was a promising season.
The fifth-seeded Falcons did everything right. Left-hander Miguel Ariza kept the Clippers off balance and twice Ford turned double plays.
The only thing missing was that insurance run or two. Bishop Ford had opportunities, but couldn’t cash in and that proved extremely costly in a 3-2 season-ending loss last Thursday, June 3 in the CHSAA Class A intersectional baseball playoffs at St. John’s University.
“You can’t sit on two runs against Xaverian,” said Adelphi-bound Stephen Bove, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI. “They’re just not going to go down without a fight. We knew that the whole season. We tried to tack on a run here, a run there, but we just couldn’t do it.”
Xaverian (19-2) rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth on Kevin Martir’s two-run double to deep center and then won the game in the eighth on Elvin Soto’s hit-and-run that scored J.T. Torres from second.
In one dramatic moment, Bishop Ford’s deepest postseason run in 15 years, and the high school careers of Ford’s spectacular seniors, came to an end.
“It’s a tough ending, six outs away, but you know a team like that, even though you’re up two runs, they’re going to score,” Ford coach Mike Hanrahan said. “You have to tack on some runs. You’re hoping to hold it down, but a team of that caliber isn’t the No. 1 seed for no reason.”
Bishop Ford (15-7) had ample opportunity to extend its lead. After Anthony Foust was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in the Falcons’ second run with one out in the third inning, Xaverian starter Eric Wlasiuk struck out Manny Torres and Andrew King to get out of the jam.
Esteban Gomez doubled down the line in left to lead off the fifth, but he was stranded there as Matt Molbury struck out, Bove popped out to first and Foust grounded out to third.
“I was just trying to keep it simple and get a little hit and I did that,” Gomez said. “We should have definitely capitalized on that. But hey, that’s why it’s called baseball.”
In the sixth inning, King hit a one-out single to right and reached second on an error by Wlasiuk. But Nelson Lopez and Dennis Dueno both flew out to second and another potential rally was thwarted.
As devastating a loss it was, it didn’t take long for the Ford players to gain some perspective on their playoff run.
“A couple of years ago we were projected to be dead last in the league,” Bove said. “Last year we started to turn some heads and this year we definitely put ourselves out there and everybody knows who we are now.”
While Bove will pitch at Adelphi next year, Gomez is off to San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College. That is, unless he gets selected in the Major League draft Monday.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Gomez said of the draft. “I’ve got a lot on my mind right now. I’ve just got to see what happens.”
Wherever he’ll play next year and beyond, Gomez will remember the team that put Bishop Ford back on the map.
“This is the best team I’ve ever played with on and off the field,” Gomez said. “We just have to be proud of all the seniors and everybody for all the hard work they put in.”