Before the biggest game of his life, Rick Terry took a nap — on a bus full of loud and excited teammates. As he slept, they placed a speaker near his ear and cranked up the music.
“He didn’t flinch,” Collegiate shortstop Taiki Kasuga said. “He kept on sleeping.”
Terry woke up just in time – to pitch the surprising Dutchmen to their first New York State Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (NYSAISAA) crown in five years, 9-2, over heavily favored Poly Prep at Manhattanville College in Westchester on Wednesday, May 26. The right-hander allowed two earned runs on six hits in seven strong innings, walked two and struck out four for his second tournament victory in four days.
Seventh-seeded Collegiate was 5-5 at one point this year in the Ivy League, but won seven of their final eight games, the only pockmark in that span a 9-9 tie against the same Blue Devils.
“There’s no words for it,” Terry said. “It’s just amazing.”
The turning point to the season, many from Collegiate (12-5-1) said, came in a 7-5, come-from-behind victory over Fieldston on April 29. One of the Eagles nearly ran over Terry as he attempted to cover first base. Kasuga, the senior captain and leader, let the player know that was unacceptable. He was tossed, as were two other teammates. The Dutchmen rallied to knock off Fieldston and went on a furious streak after that.
“We had more confidence after that,” Collegiate coach Frank Rojas said. “It motivated the entire team. We were more together.”
Terry spearheaded the run. He bested Rye Country Day School ace Zach Tax, who is headed to Columbia in the fall, in the opening round of the tournament, and was brilliant on Wednesday. He received plenty of support, too, the Dutchmen putting pressure on Poly Prep from the get-go.
Kasuga lined Blue Devils right-hander J.J. Franco’s first pitch into right field, stole second, and scored on a throwing error — the first of a season-high five errors for the usually sound Blue Devils. Joey Krumholz added an RBI triple, giving Terry a two-run lead before delivering his first pitch.
“[The first inning] put us on our heels,” Poly Prep coach Matt Roventini said.
Poly Prep (21-4-1) scratched out a run off Terry in the fourth on Matt Coposio’s sacrifice fly, The momentum would be short-lived. With two outs in the road fifth, Krumholz doubled with two outs and scored on Thomas Vance’s single to the opposite field. Collegiate poured it on in the sixth, scoring three runs without a hit. The Blue Devils fell apart, committing two errors in the inning.
With the bases loaded, reliever Richie Carbone’s pitch seemed to hit Will Pagano’s foot, but the home-plate umpire ruled it a wild pitch. Not only did James Lynfield cross on the errant deliver, but Ian McEneaney also scored as catcher Marcus Hernandez argued the call. On the very next pitch, Carbone overthrew a fastball to the backstop, allowing another run to cross.
“I don’t think words can tell you how disappointing this game is,” Roventini said after Poly Prep fell in the NYSAISAA title game for the second year in a row. “We picked the worst day to play our worst game.”
Still, the story was Terry, who kept Poly Prep off balance the entire afternoon. This from a lineup that pounded Fieldston ace Eric Kotin for eight runs in a 10-0, five-inning victory on Sunday, May 30. Terry’s brilliance — nor his composure — wasn’t out of the ordinary to his teammates. He was at the top of the rotation as a freshman, showing uncanny poise for an underclassman.
He is unusually relaxed, sleeping on team buses before every start, and rarely saying more than a few words, even when asked.
“We call him the Oracle; he has this Zen look about him,” Krumholz said. “We’ll just call him winner now.”