Stepinac beats John Jay to win wp tourney two years in a row

Posted Monday, April 14, 2008 by mara - lohud .com

Muccio provides the pop for Stepinac
By Dan Marra • The Journal News • April 14, 2008

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WHITE PLAINS - Anthony Muccio knew that sound all too well. He's heard it before.

The sound of wood connecting with the ball perfectly is unmistakable.

Muccio, a junior, swung at the first pitch thrown to him in the bottom of the seventh inning, firing the ball over Ryan Mitchell's head in right field.

Pinch runner Mike Scarnati was able to trot home from second base, giving Stepinac a 10-9 win over John Jay yesterday in the championship game of the Joe McAvoy tournament held at White Plains High School.

"I was looking for a fastball I could drive," Muccio said. "The minute (Greg Gardiner) threw it and I made contact, I knew the game was over."

Stepinac coach Pat Duffy echoed his player's sentiments.

"Muccio's got a lot of pop," Duffy said. "As soon as he hit it, I knew the game was over."

Although the teams struggled through some fielding miscues, mental mistakes and poor at-bats throughout the game, both showed resiliency to continuously comeback.

"Today was a circus out there," Duffy said. "They showed guts out there to be able to come together and not give up."

The Indians allowed a first-inning run, then struck back as they took a 4-1 lead over the Crusaders in the second inning. John Jay started the inning with three consecutive hits from Alan Filauro, Jared Hirschberg and Teddy Tsagaris. All three eventually scored as the Indians batted around.

That didn't prove to be enough as walks and errors came back to hurt the Indians, allowing Stepinac to tie the score in the third inning on a two-run single by catcher Donny Signore.

"We knew we were playing a good club today," John Jay coach Geoff Curtis said. "We can't give them that many chances and expect to come out on top. Our pitchers can't be expected to get four or five outs an inning."

Stepinac found itself trailing again in the fifth inning, 7-4, but again John Jay struggled to put the Crusaders away, allowing Steven Martinez, the tournament MVP, to score the tying run on a wild pitch. Signore scored later in the inning when Greg Caruso was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to give Stepinac an 8-7 lead.

"Mistakes screwed us up," John Jay center fielder Ray Maggi said. "We couldn't overcome them today. I feel like we gave them the game today with all of our mistakes."

In the top of the seventh inning, it was John Jay's chance to come from behind. With the Indians trailing 8-7, Maggi led off with a walk and then stole second and third base. He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Mitchell.

Then in the bottom half of the inning, a walk by Rene Gordis started the inning for the Crusaders. Scarnati came in to pinch run and stole second base, setting the stage for Muccio's winning hit.

"We never gave up," Martinez said. "Each inning we were able to come back. Our bats and pitchers keep getting better."