Matt Molbury’s high-school career didn’t end the way the Bishop Ford catcher was hoping. The Falcons finished second in the CHSAA’s Brooklyn/Queens division and were unceremoniously bounced from the Class A intersectional playoffs with back-to-back losses to Archbishop Stepinac and division rival Xaverian.
But on Friday night, the Long Island University-bound senior went out on a high note, playing in the inaugural Mayor’s Cup PSAL-CHSAA All-Star Game at MCU Park in Coney Island.
“From what it was, losing the two games to now, yeah, I can look back and be real happy about it,” Molbury said after the CHSAA pulled out a 6-5 victory.
For at least one evening, the top high school seniors in New York City were treated like pros, playing on the same field as the Brooklyn Cyclones. There were pre-game introductions, television cameras and even a pre-game Home Run Derby.
“Playing in a park like this, playing with the best in your league and against the best in the PSAL, which is a good league, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Fordham Prep outfielder Mike Maschi said. “I wish I could do it again.”
Only it wasn’t actually the best of the best in the PSAL. Several of the league’s elite players, including George Washington shortstop Mike Antonio, Francis Lewis ace Jonathan Bobea, and Monroe outfielder Melvin Garcia as well as Tottenville standouts Zach Granite, Jon Silva and Brendan Farr, who were attending their school’s prom Friday night, were absent.
“The fact that a lot of guys didn’t come is disappointing,” Madison outfielder Joe Calascione said. “But it’s their choice.”
That didn’t put a damper on the game, though. The PSAL did well to bounce back from an early 5-0 deficit to get within one run in the seventh.
“We were a little undermanned but that’s OK,” Madison coach Vinny Caiazza said. “Those kids played well. They didn’t give up.”
As it turned out, the first all-star game between standout seniors from both leagues had a little bit of everything, including an impromptu fireworks show in the seventh inning that lasted about 15 minutes.
“It was really loud,” said St. Francis Prep pitcher Lebro Burnette, who had three strikeouts in the eighth. “I tried to get into the zone. I was actually out there when the umpire called timeout so we actually got to watch it. It was funny, it was nice.”
The game also had a spectacular home run, a solo shot by Archbishop Stepinac shortstop Steven Martinez off the scoreboard in left-center field in the second inning.
“I told myself just to have fun today and I saw a pitch right away early in the at-bat and took advantage of it,” Martinez said. “I didn’t want to stop and look. It felt amazing. I was actually surprised. I didn’t know it went that far.”
There was also a touching tribute to legendary St. Raymond coach Ron Patnosh, who is retiring after 45 years. Patnosh, who founded The Bronx school’s program, was given a standing ovation when he ceremonially walked out to pull Ravens ace Ricky Eusebio in the seventh.
“That was touching, especially knowing him for so long, even before I came into St. Raymond’s,” St. Ray’s catcher Joe Tellez said. “Coming in and leaving with him is just an honor. It was a pleasure playing for Coach Patnosh. This was nice at the all-star game and everyone was here to witness it.”
The CHSAA, which used 10 pitchers, including five heading to Division I schools, came away with bragging rights.
“I know a lot of guys on this team and now I can go home and say we won this one and maybe they’ll come out and win next year,” Maschi said.
But both teams left MCU Park with memories that will last a lifetime.
“It’s something we’re never going to forget the rest of our lives,” Calascione said. “It was a lot of fun.”