Falcone pitches St. Joe's Sea past Molloy
Gordon Rugg doesn’t hesitate when he describes where pitcher Chris Falcone stands among the city’s elite.
“He’s the best lefty in the city,” the St. Joseph by the Sea coach said. “I’ll go on record saying that.”
Falcone backed up his coach’s praise with a gutty performance Sunday afternoon, tossing a complete-game, four-hitter to lead St. Joseph by the Sea to a 4-2 win over Archbishop Molloy in a CHSAA Class AA championship tournament elimination game at Kaiser Stadium.
The fifth-seeded Vikings advance to face No. 4 Fordham Prep Tuesday back at St. John’s at 6 p.m. The winner takes on sixth-seeded Iona Prep for the title Friday night.
“He’s a gamer,” Rugg said of Falcone, who improved to 7-0 with a 0.45 earned run average. “I’ve got three or four real good gamers here.”
What makes Falcone such a gamer is that he’s pitching with spasms in his lower back suffered in a regular-season win against Fordham Prep on May 12. He wasn’t sure if he’d pitch again this year, going to four different doctors. Falcone received the same prognosis – he can pitch, but he’d have to pitch with pain.
“When I go to push off that pain starts and then when I go to lift my back leg that pain really comes in,” Falcone said. “It wasn’t that bad earlier in the game, but as I got tired late in the game, then it started bothering me a lot.”
And yet, the Felician-bound Falcone got stronger as the game went on, only allowing one base runner in the final three innings and retiring the last seven batters he faced.
“He’s the best pitcher in the city by far, at least the best lefty,” Sea second baseman Matt Bowers said. “He’s been carrying us the whole season.”
Falcone and Bowers are four-year starters, the only two players remaining from St. Joseph by the Sea’s lone city championship squad in 2010.
“I’ve been batting in the nine-hole for three of them,” Bowers said.
On Sunday, though, he was batting second and came up with the game’s biggest hit – a one-out double to center in the fifth, scoring Frank Sconzo to put St. Joseph by the Sea (17-5) in front, 2-1.
“I’ve been struggling lately,” said the C.W. Post-bound Bowers. “I think that was my first hit of the postseason. I’m just glad I could help my team out.”
The Vikings added another run on a fielders choice by Joe Santigate in the fifth and added a pair of key insurance runs on Mike Leone’s two-run triple to left in the sixth.
Falcone, who struck out nine, did the rest against No. 7 Molloy (15-9) despite struggling with his command early and issuing five walks.
“The lefty curveball, he sets them up,” Rugg said. “He’s got a nasty slider, but he throws strikes. Today he wasn’t even on. That was I would say an 80 percent performance.”
The Vikings are now one win away from reaching the title game. It’s an experience Bowers said is unmatched in high school.
“Every kid on this team has won a championship, whether its on the JV or varsity level,” Bowers said. “I keep on telling them it is 10 times better on varsity. A Friday night game is just unbelievable.”
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