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Falcons soar past Roses in quarterfinal of MCT

May 18, 2011

St. Rose manager Jerry Frulio has seen too much baseball in his life to sit around pondering what went wrong for his team, during a quarterfinal loss to Monmouth Regional in the Monmouth County Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
“They [Monmouth Regional] had some big at bats and we had some plays we didn’t make that we normally make,” Frulio said. “Seven innings later the game is over.  You don’t try to sit there and figure it out, you just go back at it [in the next game].”
With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Monmouth Regional second baseman Brandon Pollina hit an opposite field, three-run home run to give the Falcons — the number 11 seed — a 6-4 lead, an advantage the team would never relinquish.
The loss for St. Rose — the number three seed — ended the Roses run at a Monmouth County Tournament title.
St. Rose was uncharacteristically shaky in the field during the loss to the Falcons, committing five errors which led to four unearned runs behind senior Chris Napolitano, who suffered just his first loss of the season.
“Our strength over the past four years and then some has been pitching and defense,” Frulio continued. “The defense just wasn’t there like it normally is.”
Monmouth Regional jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the game, on an RBI single by first baseman Max Schmardel in the top of the first inning.
St. Rose made its first noise of the quarter-final in the bottom of the second, answering back with three runs of its own.
With two outs, following a single by senior Nick Morrissey to load the bases, senior left-fielder Shayne Smith continued his clutch hitting for the Roses.
Smith singled back up the middle to drive in teammates, sophomore Brad Currao and senior Sean Stewart, giving St. Rose a 2-1 lead.
Senior Kevin Case followed Smith’s single, with an RBI double down the right field line,  scoring Morrissey to extend the Roses lead to 3-1.
Following Case’s double, Monmouth Regional’s manager elected to pull starter Luke Cahill in favor of Bill Vanmeerbeke. The move seemed premature, but Frulio respected his counterparts decision, feeling the Falcon manager was doing what he felt gave his team the best chance to win.
“Somebody in the bench said that they went to the quick hook on him [Cahill] but in a tournament setting you don’t wait around because you want to have your best shot [to win],” Frulio said. “You know that if you lose you go home, so you have to coach the game like it is the seventh game of the World Series.”
The move proved to be the correct one for the Falcons, as Vanmeerbeke came in and pitched five- and one-third innings of one-run baseball for Monmouth Regional in relief.
Stewart provided St. Rose’s final run in the bottom of the third, hitting a triple off the top of the left-center field fence to score Currao and to give the Roses a 4-1 lead.
The Falcons showed their resiliency in the top of the fourth inning, getting two runs to cut St. Rose’s lead to 4-3.
In the top of the fifth, Monmouth Regional caught a break, using a Purple Rose error with two outs to extend the inning, before Pollina hit his game-changing blast to give the Falcons the lead for good.
“Monmouth came to play today and they are a very intense group of individuals who are very well coached,” said Frulio.  “They play the game the way it is meant to be played.”
Despite being on the losing end of the game, Frulio saw the charm in a tournament setting.
“The beauty of a tournament is that on any given day any team can beat another,” said Frulio.  “I told the guys that we see it every year in March in college basketball.”
“There is nothing we have to learn from a day like this because we know the game of baseball,” said the manager. “It was just one of those days of baseball.”

For live updates on the Roses first-round SCT game on Saturday, follow me at:  http://twitter.com/#!/SamCostantino

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