CHSAA Baseball Intersectionals: Iona Prep forces deciding CHSAA AA title game with Farrell

Monsignor Farrell’s CHSAA Intersectional AA crown is on hold.

That after the No. 7-seeded Lions dropped a 5-1 decision to No. 4 seed Iona Prep Wednesday night at St. John’s University in Queens.

Farrell entered the game riding an 11-game win skein and in the driver’s seat of the double-elimination event having gone undefeated.

The Farrell loss, however, means the same two teams will return to St. John’s on Friday at 7 pm for the winner-take-all championship game.

“We came out a little flat,” said Farrell catcher Antonio Marsillo. “We had an extended rest. I think we have to put the ball in play more and throw more strikes.

“They played like they couldn’t lose today and we played like we had another game left so next game we have to go out and win.”

The Lions will most likely throw ace Kasey Gilman on Friday. He hasn’t pitched since last Friday winners’ bracket final victory vs. Iona Prep.

Many thought Gilman, a senior, was going to start last night, but Farrell coach Bobby Mulligan gave the ball to junior Anthony Spungin instead.

But Spungin wasn’t up to the task as he lasted only 2.1 innings, allowing four runs on three hits while walking three and hitting another.

“I thought we had some trouble throwing strikes tonight. We walked a few batters and hit a few batters,” said Farrell coach Bobby Mulligan. “(Offensively) we had opportunities and didn’t cash in a couple of times.”

Meanwhile, Spungin’s counterpart, Marcel Kulik, just a sophomore, was brilliant, pitching a complete-game four-hitter. The crafty righty struck out five and didn’t issue a walk.

Iona Prep tallied a run in its first at-bat as cleanup hitter Fasciglione, a Notre Dame recruit, singled home Zach Levinson, who had reached via a fielder’s choice. Iona Prep may have had more in the frame, but Spungin picked off Christian Rodriguez, who led off the game with a walk, at second with no one outs.

The Gaels knocked Spungin from the box in the third as Zach Levinson reached first with a one-hit infield single. Spungin then plucked Brian Bailey before Peter Fasciglione blasted a two-run triple up the left-centerfield alley to make it 3-0. Fasciglione finished with three RBI.

“That big hit hurt us,” lamented Mulligan.

With Jake Conroy now on the mound for Spungin, Fasciglione scored on the back end of an attempted double steal. The Lions got the runner going to second base, but couldn’t get the runner coming home.

Meanwhile, Kulik breezed through the first two innings, striking out three and not allowing a hit or baserunner.

The Lions got their first two baserunners of the game against Kulik in the home third when Peter Fopeano and Vin Weigele singled to open the inning. They moved up a base after a nifty sacrifice bunt by Tom Fitzgibbons. But Kulik got tough and wound up stranding the two baserunners there.

Iona Prep added an insurance run off Farrell reliever Jake Conroy in the home fifth on Ellis Windheim’s sacrifice fly, which was set up by three bases on balls in the inning.

The Lions scored their only run of the game in the home fifth as Rob Rispoli plated Fopeano, who had reached base via an infield single with one out, with a sacrifice fly.

“I feel confident (about Friday),” said Mulligan. “We have to keep our heads up.”

NOTES: Farrell shortstop Rispoli made a great play, snaring a line drive out of the air while diving to his right and robbing Rodriguez of a hit in the third inning … The Gaels played without the services of one of their top players and pitchers, Jimmy Keenan, a St. John’s commit, who is out for the rest of the year with an injury he sustained in the losers’ bracket final vs. Kennedy Catholic on Tuesday … The winner of Friday’s game will play the Chaminade-St. Joseph’s Collegiate (Buffalo) victor on Saturday for the CHSAA AA state title.

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