Venturino, Murphy force Game 3 for Farrell
Joe Venturino knows his role on the Monsignor Farrell baseball team, the responsibility he has as a senior starter.
“As a senior I have to pick up my team,” the shortstop said. “I know they count on me and I usually back them up on the field. They expect me to make the plays.”
Venturino didn’t do that in the opening game of a best-of-three third round qualifying series against rival St. Joseph by the Sea. His three errors proved costly, a rare defensive struggle for Venturino at the worst possible time.
“Probably that was as bad a defensive game he’s had all year,” Farrell coach Bob Mulligan said. “He’s been just a remarkable shortstop for us the last two years.”
Redemption for Venturino came at the plate in Game 2. He went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs to lead Farrell to a 5-0 win over rival St. Joseph by the Sea Monday at Kaiser Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University.
The Lions force a decisive Game 3 to be played at St. Joseph by the Sea Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. The winner advances to the double-elimination CHSAA Class AA championship tournament.
“Our backs were against the wall and we figured we had no choice,” Venturino said. “As seniors we came together and talked it out. This could be our last game at Farrell together and we didn’t want that to happen.”
While Venturino came through huge at the plate, Mike Murphy did so from the mound. The senior right-hander pitched a complete-game shutout, scattering five hits and struck out three with no walks.
“He did a great job, I don’t know how he did it in this heat,” Venturino said. “I’m pacing around the whole time and he’s calm out there. He did a great job, what we expected out of him.”
Murphy entered the year as the Lions ace, but struggled during the regular season. He came in to get the final two outs of a second round qualifying game against Bishop Ford Sunday and carried that confidence over to Monday.
“I thought I was throwing so much harder than in the beginning of the season,” Murphy said.
Getting his fastball over for strikes set up an effective slider for Murphy, who also received some stellar defensive plays from his teammates. In the third inning, Pace-bound center fielder Mike Viegas nailed Frank Sconzo trying to score from second on Matt Bowers’ two-out single up the middle to keep the game scoreless.
“That was big,” Mulligan said. “Mike will do that when he realizes he has a chance to get the guy at the plate, he’ll air mail the cutoff guy. He’s got my permission to do that.”
St. Joseph by the Sea (13-4) also threatened in the fifth inning. Lou Mandia led off with a single and Alex Amadeo was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
Joe Palmeri tried to move the runners over, but Farrell third baseman Phil Ciprello charged in and perfectly fielded the bunt attempt, throwing to Venturino covering third to get the lead runner.
Sconzo then popped out to first and Mike Leone flew out to right to end the inning, as the game remained scoreless heading into the bottom of the fifth.
That was a turning point, according to Sea coach Gordon Rugg.
“[Liam Vogt] pitched very well. We should have had some runs in the fifth inning for him,” he said. “First and second [and] no out, we can’t bunt the ball? Then we swing at the first pitch twice and we’re out of the inning.”
Monsignor Farrell (9-9) finally took the lead in the bottom of the fifth as Venturino singled home Viegas and Rob DeAngelis scored on Ciprello’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Lions tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on an error by Palmeri at short, a bases-loaded walk to DeAngelis and an RBI fielders choice by Venturino.
“It’s no surprise [he bounced back],” Mulligan said of Venturino. “He’s the type of kid who just forgets about it, goes out and gets the next one.”
St. Joseph by the Sea 8, Monsignor Farrell 2
Nick Gonchar had a single, a double and a triple, driving in five runs, Matt Bowers scored twice and Lou Mandia and Vogt also had RBIs for St. Joseph by the Sea in Game 1 Monday morning at Kaiser Stadium. Ace Brian Russell went the distance, allowing two earned runs on six hits, striking out six, while walking four. Brett Bracco and Venturino had RBIs for the Lions.
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