St. Francis Prep has gotten used to staring elimination in the face.
The Terriers were just three outs away from being dispatched for good by All Hallows in Game 2 of the best-of-three qualifying series at Fordham University Monday.
Junior second baseman Bobby Peretti still believed his team had a good chance to win.
“We knew we had to win,” he said. “We couldn’t let the seniors down in their possible last game in high school.”
Peretti started the one-out rally with a walk. Three batters later, Aaron Acosta’s sacrifice fly drove in Gabe Gonzalez to cap St. Francis Prep’s 5-4 comeback victory against All Hallows.
Ninth-seeded St. Francis Prep, which wiped out the memories of a Game 1 defeat just hours earlier, lost two leads before Acosta’s game-winning RBI sent the series to a decisive Game 3 at 7 p.m. Tuesday back at Fordham University. The Terries defeated McClancy 7-1 in the second round Sunday as pitcher Taso Stathopoulos went six innings to get the win.
“I had a feeling we were going come back,” St. Francis Prep coach Bro. Robert Kent said. “The team changed attitudes  degrees from defeat to lets go get them.”
St. Francis Prep (13-7) lost its 1-0 lead as No. 8 All Hallows (10-8) got on the scoreboard in the second inning off starting pitcher Justin Teitelbaum. Jonathan Aponte and Alexis Torres recorded run-producing singles as the Gaels roped together four straight hits with two outs to take a 2-1.
In the bottom of the second, leadoff hitter Steven Pelan’s suicide squeeze drove in Stathopoulos and Perettii followed with an RBI single to left field to give St. Francis Prep a 3-2 lead.
Jared James, who replaced starter Danny Flores in the second inning, allowed only one runner to reach from the fourth to the sixth inning. All Hallows tied the game in the fourth inning and regained the lead at 4-3 in the top of the fifth when Jason Soto lined a single to center, scoring Tulane-bound Stephen Alemais from second base.
The Terriers weren’t done yet, as they received a confidence-boosting lifeline in the top of the seventh.
All Hallows had runners on first and third with one out when the Terriers came up with the defensive play of the day.
Reyes hit a medium fly ball to Pelan in center with one out. The St. Francis Prep senior caught the ball and delivered a laser to home plate to get Andrew Delarosario to cap off an inning-ending double play to keep the deficit at one run.
“That saved our season,” Acosta said. “It was very big for us. Just the fact that the centerfielder came out clutch and the catcher kept the ball.”
The Terriers carried that momentum to the bottom of the seventh with Peretti hitting a one-out single and Gonzalez then walking on four pitches, ending James’ day on the mound.
Alemais came on in relief and promptly walked Matt Kramer to load the bases. The Gaels pitcher continued his wildness with a wild pitch to the backstop which scored Peretti from third base.
Acosta waited for a fastball and got plenty on it to send a fly ball to center that was deep enough for Gonzalez to score the winning run.
“He was throwing hard. His speed didn’t faze me,” Acosta said. “I knew he was throwing his curveball and it wasn’t falling so I was waiting on his fastball. I was sitting on his fastball and I got the job done.”
Kent said he would lean on Stathopoulos to pitch in the decisive game on just two days rest. All Hallows coach Ed Gutierrez has confidence his team can bounce back with Jo Jo Morel on the mound.
“We just got to come back to play one game like we lost by 10 runs,” Gutierrez said. “We got to buckle on the chinstrap and get after it tomorrow.”
All Hallows 7, St. Francis Prep 0
Reyes shut down the Terriers, allowing just one hit, Morel had three hits and three RBIs and Alemais scored three times in Game 1 Monday afternoon at Jack Coffey Field.