Despite early playoff exit, optimism remains for Ford

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In each of Mike Hanrahan’s two seasons as the Bishop Ford baseball coach, he has seen vast improvements. The Falcons have made the playoffs both years, their league record has gotten better and they even beat defending CHSAA Class A intersectional champion Xaverian this spring.

Unfortunately, they still haven’t made it to the best-of-three third round of the CHSAA Class A intersectional playoffs.

“It hurts, it hurts very much,” senior right-hander Kasceim Graham said after Ford was eliminated, 6-0, by St. Joseph by the Sea Monday afternoon at the Parade Grounds in Brooklyn. “I’ll look at this as a positive season – in a week or two.”

Monday’s loss to the Vikings was indeed extremely disappointing. The Falcons mustered just two hits, both in the seventh inning, off Sea ace Nick Pavia. They had just one base runner – Anderson Mateo walked in the third – and struck out seven times.

Graham failed to match Pavia. The Ford ace was touched up for two runs in the first and two more in the sixth before he was lifted.

It was a shaky start for the hard-throwing Graham, who allowed five earned runs on six hits, with four strikeouts and three walks. Back-to-back walks by Anthony Visone and Joe Stabach set up Nick Galli, who blistered his next pitch into the left-center field gap, giving Sea (9-7) an early two-run lead. Graham felt he was squeezed early, and looked to get ahead.

“Bad things happen when you have to come over the plate,” he said.

More than its ace’s inconsistent outing, Ford (10-8) fell short because of its inability to generate much offense. Graham couldn’t think of a reason for the lackluster afternoon at the plate.

“After all the batting practice we took this year, you would think we would hit better,” he said.

Hanrahan had a better explanation.

“You have to tip your cap to Pavia,” the coach said. “We’ve had games where we hit good pitching. I’d like to believe he shut down good hitting.”

It helped that every ball the Falcons hit hard was either directly at a Sea fielder or found their glove, anyway.

Galli, the right fielder, robbed Louis Mastrandrea in the fourth on a sliding catch down the right field line. In the fifth, Matt Molbury got around on a high fastball, sending it to deep left-centerfield. Yet, left fielder Nick Aimetti raced back and hauled in the long drive over his shoulder.

“It was a good shot, just wasn’t good enough,” Molbury said.

Despite the early exit from the postseason, Hanrahan is excited with the direction of the program. His players remained upbeat the entire seven innings on Monday, looking for that one late-inning rally. It never came, but progress – a fourth-place finish in Brooklyn/Queens ‘A’ included – remained.

“We took another big step in the right direction to being a quality team in our league and the city,” Hanrahan said. “From beginning to end, it’s been great baseball.”

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