It wasn’t your traditional post season for Fordham Prep and the rest of the CHSAA baseball league.
Playoff games from the best of three series through the championship game were traditionally played at Fordham University and St. John’s University. Both sites were doing work to their fields, causing the league to have to find neutral sites for games almost on a daily basis.
“We wake up in the morning, ‘where are we playing today?’ Rams shortstop Sebastiano Santorelli said was a popular question.
After staving off elimination with a 4-1 victory over St. Francis Prep at Manhattanville College on May 30. Fordham had its season ended 10-5 by Kennedy Catholic the next day in the losers bracket of the CHSAA double-elimination intersectional championship tournament. The Rams beat the Gaels in their first three meetings. Fordham, unlike other teams during the seeding round, were unable to play a true home game. The league used fields at Salesian, Iona Prep and Stepinac for the Bronx/Westchester schools.
Fordham use to be able to walk a few feet from their school for playoff games at Fordham unless they made the short trip to St. John’s to keep playing every game at home. For this post season they would do their pre-game prep work before games at that the school before traveling to their destination.
“It’s tough, but the kids love playing on these grass fields,” Rams coach Pat Dean said. “It turns into a grind a little bit, but the kids like it. We have kids driving all over the place, sharing rides. It was easier when it was at Fordham, but guys [in the league] were complaining about that too.”
Fordham didn’t use the tricky logistics as an excuse because all the other teams throughout the league were making the same travel sacrifices. It just put a new wrinkle into a usually familiar process.
“It’s a little different,” said pitcher Chuck Lippolis, who earned the win against SFP. “Obviously we’d like to be at home. We just come out here and we know we have to play some baseball.”
The Rams will return a strong core next season starting with Santorelli. He showed off his speed, got two hits and drove in three runs in the win over St. Francis Prep. Santorelli is also a smooth fielder at short. Santorelli will lead a group that will include returning starters in catcher Gaetano Annunziata, left fielder Christian Greco, first baseman Conor McNamara and designated hitter Thomas Huvane.
“He’s been doing it all year,” Lippolis said of Santorelli. “That’s why we got him in the lineup there. He’s been doing it since he was a sophomore last year He is going to keep getting those big hits and we are going to keep rallying behind him.”