Former Rice HS baseball player Kerry McAllister has gotten comfortable in his new surroundings at Salesian.
The senior shortstop recorded three hits and scored the game-winning run in the top of the seventh inning to lead Salesian to a 5-4 comeback victory over host DeWitt Clinton in the first day of the 43rd annual Monroe Tournament Saturday afternoon in The Bronx.
Salesian coach Kevin Del Valle was pleased with the fortitude his team showed after losing a 2-0 lead early in the contest. The Eagles tied the game at 4-all in the sixth, and scored the decisive run with two outs as Steven Zadrima hit an RBI single to right field as McAllister scored from third base.
Del Valle thinks the win is important for his team to gain confidence, especially in games coming up in the next few weeks against Fordham Prep and Iona Prep in the CHSAA Bronx/Westchester division. Despite losing 12-2 against Tottenville in its second game of the tournament, Salesian will play on Monday against Manhattan Center with a chance to advance to the elimination round.
“It’s important for these guys. We play in a tough division. To get ready to play those type of teams, you got have to play this caliber of competition,” Del Valle said. “To come out and beat Clinton in this tough game was important. They see they can compete and can fight.”
Eagles pitcher Wesley Albert struck out Jordany Aquino with a runner on third base in the bottom of seventh to record a complete-game victory. Clinton had previously lost 10-3 to Manhattan Center in its first game of the day.
McAllister adds experience and a good bat in the middle of the Salesian lineup. He has enjoyed his time at the school after experiencing heartbreak last spring as Monsignor Scanlan came back from a five-run deficit to eliminate Rice in the CHSAA Class A semifinals. Less than a month later, the Harlem school closed its doors due to low enrollment and massive debts.
The Harlem native played that final game with Rice at Salesian in New Rochelle, and though he hoped Rice would find a way to stay open, McAllister had an idea where he would go. McAllister then consulted with his family and happily made the choice to make the 45-60 minute commute via bus and Metro North to attend Salesian.
“At Rice we always got on a bus, and didn’t have a nice facility like Salesian,” McAllister said. “Just hearing the last bell, and being able to walk out a couple of feet to the field and work out is great.”
Del Valle, who was sitting in the stands during that Class A semifinal game a year ago, had known McAllister quite well. While guiding Scanlan to the Class B championship three years ago over Rice, he witnessed McAllister, then a freshman hurler, pitch a complete-game victory to stave off elimination before Scanlan dispatched Rice in the decisive game.
“He definitely missed the times at Rice, but he fell in love with the campus, the field and we are lucky to have him,” Del Valle said. “He just has great poise, great character and a great family. I’m glad he’s wearing our jersey because he represents the school so well.”
McAllister isn’t just happy to put on a uniform. He wants to win some ballgames. It’s going to be a challenge, but his team is confident they can compete.
“In the public view, we’re a bit of the underdogs. But my team and the school knows that our whole demeanor is we think we can beat anybody,” McAllister said. “We ain’t going into games like oh who’s this or that, or we’re scared. We’re just out there playing baseball against anybody. We just got to play hard.”