Poly Prep had a sound strategy coming into the NYSAISAA championship game. The Blue Devils coaching staff knew Berkeley Carroll starter Phillip Seay had thrown 98 pitches in five innings on Sunday in the semifinals and tossed a five−out save on Saturday in the quarters.
Essentially, Poly Prep batters were supposed to make Seay work for everything he got.
“Be aggressive in the strike zone,” Blue Devils coach Matt Roventini said. “Don’t go out of the strike zone. Don’t give him outs. We didn’t. The kid got his own outs.”
Indeed, Seay was a bulldog Wednesday.
He gave up just one run on six hits and struck out seven in seven innings as second−seeded Berkeley Carroll went on to shock No. 1 Poly Prep, 4−1, at Columbia University’s Baker Athletic Complex. The Blue Devils were trying to win their third straight title.
“He was unbelievable,” Roventini said. “You tip your cap to a kid like that.”
Poly Prep starter Rich Carbone had his own issues after cruising through the first five innings, giving up just three hits. A cyst on his lower back that he has been nursing all season popped, pooling blood against his uniform. In the sixth, he gave up two runs after Seay and Robbie Paller doubled and came around to score. Junior J.J. Franco came on in relief and gave up another pair of runs. By the time the inning was over, BC (19−2) had scored four runs and it was on its way to the Park Slope, Brooklyn school’s first−ever NYSAISAA title.
“We knew he had to battle through,” Roventini said. “He fought through it all season. He didn’t want to miss a day, a week, a second.”
Poly Prep (22−3) went ahead, 1−0, in the first inning when sophomore Joe Calabrese reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, went to third on a single by senior Frank Torres and scored on a wild pitch. The run held up until the sixth.
The Blue Devils were the favorites to win, coming from the much stronger Ivy League. But shortstop and ace pitcher Franco, the son of New York Mets legend John Franco, said he wasn’t surprised when Berkeley Carroll left Columbia with the trophies.
“We always knew they were a good team,” he said.
The junior said that Roventini’s first words to he and his teammates after the devastating loss was this season was still special. Poly has a chance to be even better next year. The Blue Devils lose just two regulars and Franco, who is attracting Division I interest, will have another year under his belt.
“We’re gonna be good,” Franco said. “We’re looking forward to that.”