Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Chronicle of an Epic Battle 2016

On the 16th of October, in the year of our Lord 2016, the teams of St. John's Seminary of Boston and Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary met on the field of Regis College to do battle in their annual contest for the greatly coveted Softball Trophy. Inclement weather, and breaks, reduced the amount of practice time and pastoral assignments, guests, midterms, and injuries ravaged the roster of St. John's, which arrived to find themselves heavily outnumbered by their opponents. Undaunted, the line-up which featured four first-time starters took the field to defend that which had been so valiantly won the year before.

The Relics began with ferocity and determination, the first pitch of the game sailing over the fence. A single, another single, another home run, and yet another single, as four runs crossed the plate without an out recorded. Then, the defense settled, the next three batters retired, and St. John's was up to bat. Billy Robinson, captain of the team came up to bat, lining a single to begin the counter-attack. Brendan Rowley slapped a double into the gap to threaten for St. John's for the first time. Those bats, so true and trusted, which had fought and won before, began the counter-attack. Dcn. Dave Harris stepped in, a 6-year veteran, ready to begin in earnest his last game; a fly-out. Bobby LeBlanc whose heroics aided last year's victory followed him; a strikeout. A dire turn of fortune had weakened that potent veteran presence in the line-up, and the team's line-up faced its first challenge.

The first men in the line-up were veterans, used to their place, but what came next in the line-up was a calculated gamble making use of the new talent on the roster. Derek Mobilio had shown great ability to hit low and fast through the in-field, placed fifth to put a runner on base consistently after Bobby and Dave were expected to clear them. Matthew Norwood came next, being called on to start only minutes before the game but chosen from the bench players for his consistent contact at the plate in practice, also to get on base. Seventh Joe Ferme, whose power was hoped to produce home runs to start the second clean-up wave in the order, followed eighth by Nick Stano whose bat showed versatility and power. This was the untested part of the offensive scheme, and it arrived at a critical juncture in the contest. Derek laced a bases-clearing single to score the first two runs for St. John's. Matthew followed with a single to add a base-runner for Joe who hit a single to score Derek. Nick launched a double to score Matthew, and the game was tied; the stratagem worked. Now the veteran and four-year ace of St. John's, Dcn. Brian Morris, stepped in and with a newfound power to opposite field fired a bases-clearing double past the right fielder. Workhorse Matt Gill, a steady presence at the bottom of the order for the past five years scored Brian with a single next. When the inning was over, seven runs had crossed the plate. SJS 7, PSJ 4.

Dcn. Brian Morris then began a stellar pitching performance, backed by a fundamentally sound, polished and fluid defense allowing only four runs over the ensuing four innings. The offense continued its onslaught in the ensuing innings, scoring sixteen more times in those frames. Those bats of David and Bobby came alive without delay, and soon the ball began to fly over the fence in right field, center, and left at an alarming pace. David Harris and Bobby LeBlanc each recorded three home runs in their final five at-bats. Brendan Rowley added another three, as did Joe Ferme, and Brian Morris. Derek Mobilio, whose task was to get on base for Joe, Nick, and Brian to score him, went 6-for-6 and on every occasion came around to score. Matt Norwood, and his sixth inning replacement Dan White also managed to reach base safely all six times, and those two spots in the order contributed heavily to Joe Ferme's team-leading 10 RBIs. The team combined for a .730 OBP with all twelve players used scoring at least once. Peter Cotnoir and Dan White, who came off the bench in relief of their comrades reached base safely twice in two plate appearances apiece. Derek and Joe fit seamlessly around the veteran middle infield of Bobby LeBlanc and Brendan Rowley, Brian Morris showed his defensive chops snagging a wicked comebacker, and the fourth consecutive year of Dave Harris, Billy Robinson, and Matt Gill covering from Left to Right-Center field proved as effective as the previous three, augmented by the Right field play of Nick Stano and then Peter Cotnoir. Behind the dish Matthew Norwood and Dan White performed admirably on short notice, rounding out a complete defensive effort to complement what became an offensive onslaught.

The day was not, however, without its drama. As the bottom of the third inning approached, St. John's leading 12-5 and coming up to bat, it was clear that momentum had shifted firmly behind the defending champions. Brendan Rowley led off with a home run. Dave Harris followed with a homer of his own, and Bobby LeBlanc made it three in a row. Derek reached first safely, and was joined by Matt Norwood on the bases promptly. Joe Ferme hit another home run to score the lot, followed by a triple from Nick, and a home run by Brian Morris; eight batters, eight runs scored, nobody out. Matt Gill came to the plate and had one of his few hitless at-bats, and then Billy came to the plate and flied out, at which point the Relics walked off the field, and the umpires called a third out. With the score 20-5 in favor of St. John's the protest was mild and short, and the field was resumed. Alas, in the fourth and the fifth innings, the offense stalled scoring only three runs, and it seemed that the break in momentum caused by the lost out could spell trouble for St. John's. The lead having dwindled slightly to 23-11, however, the bats came alive in the 6th inning batting around twice, scoring fifteen runs and sealing a 38-13 victory for the home team.

This, one of the most lop-sided victories of recent memory was the product of a lot of work from all of the talented players on our roster, those who played (Billy Robinson, Rev. Mr. David Harris, Rev. Mr. Brian Morris, Brendan Rowley, Matthew Gill, Bobby LeBlanc, Derek Mobilio, Matthew Norwood, Joseph Ferme, Nick Stano, Daniel White, and Peter Cotnoir), and those who practiced with the team and were unable to play (Michael Rora, Joseph Kim, Patrick O'Connor, Joseph Maurici, Jeffrey Maciejewski, Rev. Mr. Joseph Sanderson, Greg Sheffield, David Campo, Tom Murphy, and Joseph Moynahan). This is thanks in a special part to the work of captains Billy Robinson and Dave Harris, and analyst/player Michael Rora who worked together to craft the starting roster and line-up. Thanks are also warranted to Msgr. James Moroney, Msgr. Cornelius McRae, Fr. Chris O'Connor, and all those who came out to support the team.