Nazareth went into the championship game looking to make up for last year’s loss in the final.
But Monsignor Scanlan’s Mario Rodriguez dashed the Kingsmen’s hopes with a game-winning single in the bottom of the eighth inning. Nazareth fell 4–3 to Scanlan in the Catholic Class A championship game at St. John’s University’s Jack Kaiser Stadium on June 4. The Kingsmen needed to beat Scanlan twice to win the crown in the double-elimination format.
“We lost, which is unfortunate,” Nazareth Coach Oggie Quiles said. “It was a great game, a lot of big plays on both teams.”
Though the result was the same, the Kingsmen squad has grown since last season in the coach’s eyes.
“They are caring about the game more,” he said. “They took this loss harder than they took last year’s loss, just because it was such a great game and they worked so hard. Last year, when we were down, we didn’t fight. This year, they knew we were going to find ways to score runs.”
The Crusaders opened up the scoring in the bottom of the third. With two men on, Antonio Arroyo lined out to the second baseman, who threw the ball away trying to turn a double play.
Following the error, Scanlan pitcher Ernny Ordonez drilled a double to make it 2–0. Nazareth pitcher William Navarro then settled down and struck out the next two batters.
“We told him to enjoy himself, have a little fun out there,” said Quiles said of Navarro. “He did a great job making big pitches when he had to.”
Nazareth was able go ahead in the fifth. With runners on second and third and two outs, Ordonez looked to ruin the Nazareth rally by striking out Agustin Quiles. The third strike, however, got by catcher Nelson Rodriguez, which allowed to a run to score. He then threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt to third allowing the second run to come home. Later in the inning, a ball went past Rodriguez again allowing Quiles to score and make it 3–2.
“That’s the type of game that we play,” coach Quiles said. “We have a lot of team speed. We use it the best that we can and things worked out for us.”
Navarro, who pitched seven innings, gave up four runs, struck out 11 and walked three. He began to cruise, retiring six-straight batters after the Scanlan two-run third.
“I just went out there threw my pitches, hit my spots, and everything fell into place,” the junior said.
The Crusaders tied the score in the bottom of the sixth on a fielder’s choice by Nelson Rodriguez. Nazareth wasn’t able to retake the lead, before Mario Rodriguez became the Crusaders’ hero and ruined Nazareth’s hopes of getting a crown. But there is always next year.
“It brings me great motivation,” Navarro said. “My team and I are going to be working this entire summer. We’re definitely going to be a force next year, without a doubt.”