There are no secrets when Iona Prep and Fordham Prep meet Friday night at Kaiser Stadium in the CHSAA Class AA championship game live on MSGVarsity.com at 7 p.m.
Four intense battles this year has taken the intrigue out of this showdown. Both teams have the scouting reports down, both know what each team’s pitchers throw.
Heck, they might even know each coach’s favorite food.
No secrets, sure, but there will ample drama under the lights at St. John’s University Friday in one of the biggest games of this storied rivalry.
Sixth-seeded Iona Prep (17-6) defeated No. 4 Fordham Prep (16-8) 1-0 Sunday night at Kaiser Stadium to book its ticket into the final of the double-elimination tournament.
The Gaels received a stellar outing from senior Joe Finnegan, who allowed five hits in a complete-game shutout and a miraculous game-clinching play by Vinny DeMaria deep in the hole at short with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to even the season series with Fordham at two games apiece.
Iona Prep is attempting to win its first CHSAA title since 2003 and trying to send longtime coach Fred Gallo, who is stepping down after 31 years, out with a bang.
“We all want one thing and we have one more game left,” Finnegan said Sunday night. “We can’t wait.”
Iona Prep, which boasts arguably the best pitching staff in the CHSAA, will have Temple-bound left-hander Tim McCarthy on the mound. The lanky senior scattered three hits in six shutout innings in a 9-0 win over Moore Catholic in his last outing.
Fordham Prep counters with Steve Fondu, a Furman-bound senior who also starts in left field. In a 9-3 win over Xaverian in his last outing, Fondu gave up three runs on three hits in the first two innings, but got into a groove in the middle innings and got even stronger later.
He allowed just an infield single in the final four innings and retired the final eight he faced. Fondu struck out seven and walked two.
The Rams shook off the 1-0 loss to Iona Sunday to beat St. Joseph by the Sea 6-0 in an elimination game Wednesday at St. John’s. Junior Sean McNamara went the distance, allowing just four hits – including a pair of infield singles in the seventh – to secure the win.
Fordham Prep boasts arguably the best lineup in the CHSAA, paced by Andrew Velazquez at the top. The five-tool shortstop was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the seventh round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft Tuesday afternoon, the top New York City player selected and first-ever out of Fordham Prep.
The Rams have had big contributions throughout their lineup in the postseason, including a huge two-run triple to right by Robbie Lynch against St. Joseph by the Sea.
Fordham Prep is attempting to win its first CHSAA title since 2009 and will need to follow the same script that year to do so. The Rams need to beat Iona Prep Friday night to force a decisive winner-take-all game Sunday at 4 p.m., also at St. John’s University.
Velazquez, who will likely sign with the Diamondbacks and forgo his scholarship to Virginia Tech, couldn’t have imagined a better way to end his high school career.
“It’s a good story, I guess. Especially senior season, you want to play big games against your rivals,” Velazquez said. “Who wouldn’t want to play your rival in the city championship?”
Contact Dylan Butler at email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter: @Dylan_Butler