Yet again Stepinac asked for its sophomore class to produce at a level well beyond its years. And once again, they delivered. Now the Bronx-Westchester champ is one win from its first city championship in 47 years.
The Crusaders beat Monsignor Farrell 3-1 today at Fordham University to advance to the program’s first city championship game since 1962. Sophomore Danny DiFilippo pitched five innings of two-hit ball to earn the victory. His classmates Greg Digiacinto and Donato Signore each knocked in a run to give DiFilippo and the rest of the staff all the offense it would need.
“At the beginning of the year, I knew they were talented but I didn’t know about their matureity level,” Stepinac coach Pat Duffy said. “We went through some wars during the year and now I’m just so proud of these guys. They’ve grown up right in front of my eyes. They’re warriors now. They don’t look so young anymore.”
The sophs had some help. After Digiacinto knocked in Pete Tacinelli in the third, Ed Martinez (above) drove in Steve Martinez on a squeeze bunt in the fourth. Steve had singled, stole second and advanced to third on an out by Rich Reilly. His run made it 2-0. Stepinac added another later in the inning. Jackson Markey singled, stole second and moved to third on a single by Michael Annunziata. Signore knocked Markey in on a sac fly to make it 3-0.
Duffy told me DiFilippo had only thrown 52 pitches through five innings but he felt some soreness. On came Eddie Byrne on three days rest. He breezed through the sixth but came out after allowing a leadoff walk and an single in the seventh. Signore came on for the second straight day. He recorded an out but loaded the bases. Signore allowed a sac fly, but was able to strand two on base (including the tying run at first) to win it.
Stepinac can now sit back and wait for Friday. It will play at St. John’s against the winner of the losers bracket, but that won’t be decided until at least Wednesday. And — and this is big — all of the Crusaders’ top arms should be rested and ready for the weekend. The championship is now theirs to lose.