Archbishop Molloy, St. John’s Prep Win State, City CHSAA Baseball Titles

The Archbishop Molloy H.S. (top) and St. John’s Prep varsity baseball teams won a state and city title, respectively. (Photos: Courtesy of Archbishop Molloy H.S. and St. John’s Prep)

Since it likely will still be a while until a professional baseball team brings a championship back to Queens, we can at least rely on our local high school teams to shine on the biggest stage.

Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, and St. John’s Prep, Astoria, each won their respective varsity baseball league championships.

The Stanners took home the CHSAA ‘AA’ state title, while the Red Storm captured the ‘A’ city championship.

Stanners Soar

Having lost 10 seniors from a year ago — including three top pitchers — Molloy entered the 2024 campaign set to rely on the nine juniors who were now seniors. With a tough slate of games early in the season, a strong start would get the Stanners off on the right foot. Three straight wins in a Myrtle Beach tournament along with victories over some local rivals were exactly the recipe to begin this Cinderella run. The Stanners finished the regular season 11-1 in league play to enter the Brooklyn-Queens tournament as the No. 1 seed.

After defeating Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, and Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst, Molloy reached the championship against St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows. After dropping the first game, the Stanners came back in dramatic fashion with a 3-2 win thanks to a walk-off hit by junior shortstop Pat DeSarno.

Molloy then took on St. Peter’s H.S. for Boys, Staten Island, in the city championship best-of-three matchup. St. Peter’s — the archdiocesan champion — turned in a two-game sweep, including a no-hitter in the first game.

Yet having won their diocesan tournament, the Stanners were still alive for the state title. In the semifinals, Molloy notched an 8-4 win over St. Anthony’s H.S., South Huntington, L.I. — always a tough opponent. This set up a rematch with St. Peter’s, the No. 15-ranked team in the country who were riding a 29-game winning streak.

“We always preach to the kids to compete,” said Molloy’s head coach Chris DeSarno about facing St. Peter’s again. “Those early games to me served as scouting reports because nothing matters until the playoffs. Of all these good programs, on any given day one of us can beat another.”

When the lights were the brightest, Molloy showed up. An 8-0 victory gave the Stanners their first varsity baseball state championship in program history, as well as the first state title won by a Brooklyn-Queens team since the format changed three years ago. Junior Ryan McMenamin threw a complete-game shutout, giving up only three hits while striking out six.

“It feels great right now,” Pat DeSarno said. “I think I’ll realize how huge it is a little later on in life. I really like how I’ll be able to remember these guys and remember this team forever. It’s a great memory to have.”

In addition to head coach Chris DeSarno, Molloy’s coaching staff of Mike Kondel (pitching coach) and Stephanie Staiano (assistant coach) was instrumental in leading the Stanners to a memorable season.

Red Storm Roar

In the ‘A’ division, St. John’s Prep entered the season having won back-to-back city championships. A three-peat would be the makings of a dynasty, but the Johnnies lost 10 impact seniors from a year ago.

Yet that did not stop them from dominating the league. Including scrimmages, St. John’s Prep — led by nine new seniors — went 30-2 on the season, including 15-0 in league play and the playoffs. In the title game, the dominance continued, as the Red Storm topped Christ the King H.S., Middle Village, 13-3.

“I had a good feeling and knew we would compete,” said head varsity coach Chris Duffy. “I didn’t think we’d have the season that we had, but I thought we’d be competitive in every game. We have a really good bunch of student-athletes. We have this phrase that we use, ‘We not me,’ and the guys bought into it. They’re selfless players who did whatever it took to win.”

Pitching was the defining factor for this year’s squad. Senior pitcher and first baseman John McPartland was named team MVP after batting .437 and finishing 8-0 with a 1.84 ERA. Another senior pitcher and first baseman, Jose-David Rodriguez, matched his teammate with an 8-0 record on the mound to go along with a .406 batting average.

Senior catcher and third baseman Aaron Gilden is the only member of all three recent city championships. In his final season with the Johnnies, he batted .380 with 39 RBIs in 32 games.

“It was a dream that we won one, then we won another,” Gilden said. “A three-peat is extremely special. I made a lot of friends on this team, and it’s a great way to go out as a three-time champion.”