It was the kind of moment that players dream about. And if they come through, even in a 3-2 non-league victory on a delayed opening day, the moment will be treasured as something special.
In the first game of a season-opening doubleheader sweep on Saturday of S.S. Seward, a Section IX team from Florida, N.Y., Bishop McGann-Mercy faced just such an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh inning at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank.
Monarchs pitcher Tom Tenaglia (1-0) had pitched nearly flawlessly until there were two outs in the top of the sixth. After hitting a batter on an 0-2 count, Tenaglia served up a home-run ball to Shane Kinsley. With that one pitch, the Monarchs’ 1-0 lead became a 2-1 deficit as they headed to the bottom of the seventh.
“I basically said no one’s going to tie this game on one swing,” Monarchs Coach Ed Meier said. “Of course by saying that, the first pitch to [McGann-Mercy’s Rocco Pascale], he hit a home run. So much for that.”
Pascale sent the first pitch he saw from the Spartans’ Scott Glowaczewski over the right-field wall to tie the score.
The next batter, Ian Trayner, doubled to left-center field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. With one out, Keith Schroeher hit a slow roller to the shortstop on a drawn-in infield. Trayner slid under the tag at home to give the Monarchs the win.
Meier said he had a sinking feeling after the top of the sixth. He thought Tenaglia’s complete game, in which he struck out the first five batters he faced, and finished with 11 strikeouts, would go for naught.
“It was kind of nice for us to come back in the seventh and take it,” Meier said.
The hitting that closed out what had, to that point, been a closely contested pitcher’s duel seemed to awaken both teams’ bats in the second game, an offensive barrage that the Monarchs won, 10-6.
“That was almost like a softball game,” Meier said. “A drastic difference from game one, completely different personality, a lot sloppier.”
Having kept the Monarchs in the first game with his arm, Tenaglia helped lead them to victory in the second with his bat. With none out in the top of the fourth, Tenaglia singled home winning pitcher Pat Stepnoski to put the Monarchs ahead, 7-6. Tenaglia went 4 for 5 and also hit a home run and a double.
Five batters later, Joe Crosser’s two-run double put the Monarchs ahead, 10-6.
After Stepnoski (1-0) closed out a scoreless fourth, Crosser took over in relief.
“He kind of brought some sanity to the sloppiness here,” Meier said.
Crosser earned his first save of the season with three scoreless innings.
The Monarchs have the rest of the week off, both from baseball and school. Meier said that was a good thing because the Monarchs do not always play at their best when on vacation from school. They will open their Suffolk County League VIII season on Monday when they host Port Jefferson.