- Last Updated: 12:48 AM, April 30, 2012
- Posted: 12:48 AM, April 30, 2012
St. Joseph by the Sea first baseman Angelo Navetta was caught biting his nails in the top of the eighth inning, as his team headed to extras in a scoreless tie with Cardinal Spellman.
Spellman first base coach, Donald Vanbomel, turned to Navetta and asked him if he was nervous. Navetta quickly replied, “no.”
The sophomore found himself at the plate in the bottom of the eighth, with one out and teammate Frank Sconzo on second base. Navetta remained calm, cool, and collected. He rocketed a single up the middle and Sconzo raced around third to score as the Vikings celebrated.
St. Joseph by the Sea defeated Cardinal Spellman, 1-0 in eight innings, in CHSAA Class AA baseball on Staten Island, behind Navetta’s walk-off hit and a stellar performance from ace Brian Russell. The 6-foot-3 senior ace had a career-high 17 strikeouts, while only surrendering three hits through eight.
“After coming off the mound in the eighth,” Russell said, “I just asked them to get me one.”
Navetta listened and came through in the clutch for his pitcher.
“Coach just told me to go up there and be aggressive,” Navetta said. “So I just tried to sit back and think middle. He hung a pitch and I hit it.”
Sconzo found himself at second after being hit by a pitch by Spellman pitcher Chris Scholkoff, setting up the game-winning run. While on first, Sconzo heard Sholkoff mention to his infielders to watch the steal.
“I was thinking that I should go for a fake steal,” Sconzo said. “Just to apply some pressure on them. The catcher ended up throwing it into center field so I was able to move up.”
Once he was on second, Sconzo knew Sea’s lone sophomore would drive him in.
“I have great confidence in my kid," Sconzo said.
Navetta and Sconzo were able to deliver the win for Russell, who threw 104 pitches. He would not have come out for the ninth so the Vikings knew what they had to do.
“Russell threw a fantastic game,” Sconzo said. “It’s one of the best performances for us all year. Striking out 17 batters is amazing.”
Russell never reached a three-two count throughout his eight innings. He struck out the side twice, first in the first inning and then again in the fifth after allowing a lead off double. With Russell’s performance, coming two days after Chris Falcone’s complete game shutout, Sea’s big two are carrying the team.
“I was really just trying to follow in Falcone’s footsteps,” Russell said. “He set the bar high for the weekend, so I had to stick with him.”
In the past two games the combo of Russell and Falcone struck out a combined 30 batters and have not allowed a single run.
“The credit goes to my pitching coach and of course the kids,” coach Gordon Rugg laughed. “These are tough kids, Russell’s a mountain man out there. These kind of wins just make me happy.”
On the other side of this walk off win is Cardinal Spellman (5-4), which came up just short against the undefeated Vikings (6-0). Scholkoff threw 7-1/3 scoreless innings before surrendering the hit to Navetta. He struck out two and gave up five hits, matching Russell frame for frame.
“There’s nothing you can say after this kind of game,” Spellman coach Lou Brescia said. “We just gave up one big hit, and they didn’t.”Follow @NYPostsports