A strange spring baseball season has come to an end, with the St. Edmund Prep H.S., Sheepshead Bay, varsity baseball team emerging victorious in the CHSAA ‘A’ city championship game.
The victory marks the second city championship for ninth-year head coach Joe Romano, who also guided the Eagles to the ‘A’ city title in 2018.
There was a time earlier this year when it looked like a baseball season might not even happen. Thankfully, league officials were determined to get the student-athletes back out on the diamond. The regular season featured 15 games packed into a five-week schedule. St. Edmund’s finished 9-6 overall and 9-1 against ‘A’ division teams to capture their division crown.
Key contributors to the team’s success included junior shortstop, pitcher and leadoff hitter Joseph McLinden; junior catcher Frankie Sebastiano; senior lefty pitcher, first baseman and designated hitter Fernando Woo-Tan; and junior pitcher, second baseman and outfielder Chris Arcati.
“We leaned on our pitchers the entire season,” Romano said. “They were great. They came through in every big game during the regular season and the playoffs. It was our pitching and timely hitting that got us through.”
In the Brooklyn-Queens championship game, the Eagles took on St. John’s Prep, Astoria. In the bottom of the seventh inning, McLinden delivered a walk-off single to give the team a 6-5 victory and a berth in the city championship game.
On June 17 in Bergen Beach, St. Edmund’s squared off against Archdiocese of New York ‘A’ champion LaSalle Academy, Manhattan. The Eagles jumped out in front early and never looked back en route to an 8-2 win and a city title.
Arcati pitched a complete game, allowing two runs and striking out five. He also had a hit and two RBIs. McLinden finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs scored. The team’s defense was superb, as the Eagles made all the key plays behind Arcati.
“We had the energy the entire game, and the energy kept it going,” Arcati said. “We got timely hits and made all the great plays to get us the win.”
The team’s dedication and ability to adapt to change were also key factors in the run to the championship. No matter what curveballs were thrown their way, the student-athletes rose to the challenge.
“We weren’t able to practice a lot this year, so every opportunity where we could get to the field, we tried our best to do that,” said McLinden, who hurled a no-hitter this season against Bishop Loughlin H.S., Fort Greene. “Everyone was there at practice working, which helped us get the job done.”
With the full support of Principal Allison McGinnis and the entire Athletic Department staff, the Eagles overcame the adversity of playing ball during a pandemic. That included holding a few virtual practices, watching videos to improve, and making sure they followed all the league’s safety protocols.
“It was a different year,” Romano said. “But it’s a testament to the school and to the kids, who were so resilient the entire year. Whatever was thrown at them, they didn’t flinch once. They were just so happy to be playing, and I’m really proud of all of them.”
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.