For Ron Patnosh, it wasn’t too soon to start second guessing himself.
Moments after his team was eliminated by Fordham Prep, 4-2, in the decisive third game of a CHSAA Class A intersectional third round, best-of-three series on Monday, the longtime St. Raymond’s coach was already thinking of what might have been.
“I should have taken him out after that walk,” Patnosh said of ace Ricky Eusebio. “The kid asked me to let him try and finish. He got all the clutch outs. Looking back, I should have taken him out.”
It was understandable that Patnosh gave Eusebio the benefit of the doubt. The junior right-hander had flirted with danger all game, but found a way out each time, aided by Fordham Prep base-running blunders and a few web gems from his teammates.
In fact, Eusebio pitched seven no-hit innings and, if not for a fourth-inning leadoff walk to Mike Masci, who stole second and reached third on a wild pitch before scoring on a Jesus Jaile groundout, he would have won the game, 1-0.
Instead Eusebio was the hard-luck loser, his lone mistake a first-pitch fastball to Masci in the eighth that the junior second baseman crushed for a three-run home run over the leftfield wall.
But, according to Patnosh, that’s not where the game was lost for the Ravens.
“We didn’t hit,” he said. “(Eusebio pitched) seven innings of no-hit ball on three days rest, great job. We made the plays on defense, but we just didn’t hit.”
That was painfully evident in the bottom of the eighth when the Ravens loaded the bases with none out. Fordham Prep coach Steve Pettus called on Kenny O’Brien out of the bullpen and the lefty promptly struck out No. 2 hitter Hans Arias. After O’Brien walked Manny Rivera to cut St. Ray’s deficit to 4-2, cleanup hitter Joe Tellez flied out to right and Luis Paniagua broke his bat on a groundout to short to end the game and end the Ravens’ season.
“The main part of our lineup didn’t do anything,” Patnosh said, as the middle of the Ravens’ order went 1-for-11 with a walk.
During a brief team meeting in the visiting dugout at Houlihan Park, Patnosh offered some closing remarks to his squad.
“I thanked my seniors, especially those who didn’t play that much,” Patnosh said. “Usually that’s a cancer, but they were team ballplayers all along. We gave it our best shot.”