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Poly shuts out Fieldston in last home game before finals

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It was the perfect day for baseball — and for Poly Prep senior Anthony Prato’s last home game as a Blue Devil.

The shortstop led with both his glove and bat as Poly notched a 9–0 win over Fieldston in the semifinals of the New York State Association of Independent Schools on May 23. The win — the team’s 11th straight — brings the Blue Devils squad (23–5) one step closer to its fifth state title in six years.

“It’s been amazing,” Prato said of his time at the Dyker Heights school. “I’ve had the greatest four years of my life here. I’m going to miss it so much.”

Top-seeded Poly’s next hurdle is facing Rye Country Day, the No. 2 seed, in the state championship game at Manhattanville College

“We have business to do,” Prato said. “We have one more game to go out a winner.”

He did his part, recording a triple, a double, and driving in two runs. The Connecticut commit also stepped up his game on defense, backing up the pitching of sophomore Oliver McCarthy, who limited Fieldston to no runs, a handful of walks, and two singles over five innings.

Poly coach Matt Roventini acknowledged his starter’s response to early-game adversity after McCarthy walked the first two Fieldston batters.

“Being able to keep them off the board in that situation was huge.” Roventini said. “Oliver did a great job — strikes out two, gets the ground ball, kept it at zero. At that moment, I felt very good about our chances.”

Fieldston head coach Tony Marro lamented a lost opportunity.

“We wanted to set the tone early,” said Marro about his team, which lost twice to Poly earlier in the season. “We just didn’t get the big hit when we needed it.”

Aggressive base-running, timely hits, and forcing Eagle mistakes were a winning formula for the Blue Devils, who tallied eight runs over the first three innings.

“That was part of our game plan for today,” Roventini said. “Be aggressive on the base paths, be aggressive with the bats.”

The early lead allowed McCarthy to settle in. The left-hander kept Fieldston batters off balance with a mix of fastballs and a nifty curve, resulting in five of the Eagles’ nine strikeouts.

Poly’s defense did the rest, spearheaded by Prato — who snuffed out an Eagles’ rally in the second by starting a double play — and junior catcher Ethan Wallis, whose first inning scoop-and-throw from in front of the plate allowed Poly to emerge unscathed.

“He’s been a thorn in our side for years,” Marro said of Prato. “Really good kid, hustler — he plays the game well. A great player with a great future ahead of him.”

Roventini declined to look forward to the title game against Rye — or back to last year’s upset loss to Hackley in the quarterfinals that snapped a string of four-straight Blue Devil championships.

“We haven’t spoken about our failure last year,” he said. “That’s in the past. It’s all about this year for this team.”

Prato’s attitude reflects his coach’s lunch-pail mentality, which has transformed the program into a baseball powerhouse.

“It’s not like a team — we’re more like a family,” he said. “We’re all brothers and all have the same goal: We just want to win.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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