Molloy’s Scott Hannon made a mental note on the pitches delivered in his first plate appearance when Holy Cross pitcher Nick Zestanakis struck him out in the top of the first inning.
Hannon was locked in for his next at bat. The Molloy pitcher delivered by driving an off-speed pitch over the high left field fence in the bottom of the fourth innning as the grand slam to help power Molloy’s 6-1 victory over visiting Holy Cross on Friday.
“I just waited back a little more. Luckily for me, he left it up so I put it out. It felt pretty good,” Hannon said.
Hannon also got the win by finished off a five-hit complete game performance on the mound after getting past a shaky first inning allowing the lone run of the game. Molloy are feeling confident right now as one of the hottest teams in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens division by picking up its seventh consecutive win in a row.
It seems a long time ago to coach Brad Lyons that his Stanners were swept in back-to-back games by divisional rivals Xaverian in mid-April.
Molloy (9-2), ranked No. 7 in New York City by MSG Varsity, has solidified over the last two weeks with four new starters on the diamond and earning confidence along the way.
The victory against divisional rival Holy Cross was quite important considering that the visitors had compiled a signature of win of its own Wednesday with a 10-1 victory over defending league champions Xaverian.
“Early in the year we were young. The guys needed to find themselves and find out what type of team we were going to be,” Lyons said. “And now guys are pretty confident in what we have been doing.”
Hannon, one of the top aces on the team, usually has normal routine when it comes up to warming up on the pitching mound. But in the last few weeks, Hannon has heeded the advice from Molloy coach Brad Lyons to throw a little bit longer before game time.
While Hannon has made that adjustment at a gradual pace, the right-hander continued to have first inning struggles. Frank Tribble was one of three straight Holy Cross batter to earn a hit and his RBI single drove in Mike Morgan from second base to make it 1-0.
Hannon got out of the jam by striking out the last two batters and got into a nice rhythm afterwards. Holy Cross (12-6 overall) loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning but Hannon induced Tribble on the first to ground out to short and end the scoring threat.
Christopher Armas, who lead off the third inning with a double, would eventually come around on a Kevin Linitz RBI double as Molloy evened the game at 1-all. With the bases loaded, senior catcher Vincent Moss hit a sacrifice fly that plated Linitz to give the hosts a one-run advantage.
Zestanakis got into trouble in the fourth inning with a leadoff single by Robert Schmuck and then hitting Armas and Linitz each with a pitch to load the bases. Hannon would take a curveball and drive it over the high screen located in left field, which stands just 250 feet from home plate, to give Molloy the lead for good at 6-1.
Holy Cross will have a rematch with Molloy next week and back-to-back 'Battle of the Boulevard' games against nearby St. Francis Prep to make up ground in the standings.
“We had an opportunity in the first inning there and we let it slip away and didn’t get any extra runs. It’s kind of been what we are this season,” said Holy Cross coach Steven Adams. “We’re 5-5 in the league. One day we look really good, next day we are ''eh. Its kind of what we have been: up and down.”
Maurer and his fellow upperclassmen are trying to keep the team focused on continuing the good times and not looking too far ahead.
“We got smoked twice and they [Xaverian] got us pretty good. We knew we were capable of better so we decided to take it one game at a time,” Maurer said. “Don’t look ahead on the schedule and now we are rolling.”