It was a situation no pitcher wants to inherit – no outs, bases loaded in the top of the first. But Fordham Prep’s John Tobin was just excited to get out on the mound after spending a bulk of the season rehabbing from tendonitis in his elbow.
“I knew my job was to go out there and throw strikes for as long as possible,” Tobin said. “That’s the mental frame I had to get myself into.”
Facing the heart of Mount St. Michael’s order, Tobin struck out cleanup hitter Jakeel Daniels and induced back-to-back flyouts to get out of the jam without giving up a run.
“They put up a few runs there it changes the momentum of the game,” Fordham Prep third baseman Ryan Mahoney said. “Getting out of that definitely keeps us composed and in the game.”
The junior escaped that potential trouble and went the distance, leading Fordham Prep to a 6-2 victory at Coffey Field Friday afternoon.
“That was awesome,” Tobin said. “It felt like smooth sailing from there on out.”
It was a huge win heading into Saturday’s showdown with St. Joseph by the Sea in Huguenot for a Fordham Prep squad that has won three straight games after a three-game losing streak.
“I feel like we’re back where we were,” Mahoney said. “We’re hitting the ball how we were. We hit great those last two games. I think we’ll be ready for tomorrow’s game.”
Had Tobin not had pinpoint control of a fastball he threw for strikes inside and out, the Rams might have been singing a different song. He allowed two earned runs on three hits, striking out nine with just two walks in seven innings of relief after starter Joe Lawton walked the bases loaded in the top of the first.
“He hasn’t gotten a lot of work and for him to come in a situation like that, he really had to be mentally tough,” Fordham Prep pitching coach Gene Calamari said. “He paced himself nicely, stayed focused, made his pitches when he had to. That’s all you can ask for from a relief pitcher.”
Niles Bracy also hasn’t many chances to start, either, but Mountaineers coach Wally Stampfel figured he’d give his hard-working senior a shot. Bracy gave up three runs in the first two innings, but settled down and kept Mount St. Michael (1-11) in the game.
“Usually he loses his composure when things get tough, but today he held things together and with a little more luck it would have been [closer],” Stampfel said. “He did great. I’m really proud of him.”
After Virginia Tech-bound Andrew Velazquez reached on a walk, stole second and third and scored on Vinny Capone’s RBI groundout in the first, the Rams tacked on two more runs in the second, highlighted by Steve Fondu and Robbie Lynch’s back-to-back doubles – Velazquez also had a ground-rule double to right in the inning – to take a 3-0 lead.
Fordham Prep (11-3), ranked No. 8 in New York City by MSG Varsity, tacked on two more runs in the fifth on Mahoney’s two-run single to left and Mahoney drove in Velazquez with a single to right in the sixth.
“When there’s runners on base, all you want to do is get a hit,” Mahoney said. “It’s the best feeling, driving guys in.”
Ryan Aponte’s two-run single to center in the sixth inning put Mount on the scoreboard, but Tobin set the Mountaineers down in order in the seventh, ending the impressive performance with a strikeout.
Fordham Prep moves closer to clinching the CHSAA Class AA Bronx-Westchester division title and Tobin has earned himself a closer look from Calamari as the postseason approaches.
“It means I have one more guy I can count on in the pitching staff…I know I have a guy who has come all the way back,” Calamari said. “I’m really happy about that.”
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