The College of Staten Island men’s baseball squad fell to visiting Drew University in come-from-behind fashion, 7-5, as part of the 9th Annual Grace Hillery Breast Cancer Awareness Night at the CSI Baseball Complex. More important than the game, however, was the tally in the donation category, as the Dolphins tallied up a grand total of $7,400 in funds to support CSI’s own Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative, the highest total ever at the College.

Fund-raising for the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative started early and never stopped at the ballpark, with money generated through T-shirt sales, raffles, 50/50, concessions, and straight donations.

The evening kicked off with introductions of the night’s guest of honor, Anthony Hillery, CSI baseball alum who lost his mother, Grace Hillery, during the 2004 season. Hillery greeted CSI President Dr. Tomas Morales, Provost Dr. William Fritz, CSI Athletic Director Vernon Mummert and members of the SIBCRI, led by Executive Director Donna Gerstle. That was followed by the kick-off donation, made by title sponsor One-on-One Rehabilitation Services in the amount of $1,000, presented by Joe Saraceno and Stephen Barth. Following the initiative, the game’s ceremonial first pitch was offered by Mrs. Dierdre DeAngelis, Principal at New Dorp High School and St. Teresa School Family Guild President Mrs. Tami Dicostanzo. The stirring ceremony was capped by words from Mauro himself.

On the field of play,  The Dolphins erased a 2-0 first inning deficit to regain control and go up by as much as 5-2 in the game’s fourth inning.  But the Rangers came charging back, scoring a pair of runs in the sixth and eighth and an insurance tally in the ninth, to put the game on ice.

During the middle of seventh Hillery himself addressed the crowd thanking the many in attendance. His words were followed by an inspired version of Amazing Grace sung by Phyllis Eisenberg.

“I am always humbled to return to the College and be a part of this event, seeing so many old and new faces who do this in my mother’s memory,” said Hillery, during his seventh inning address. “We are all touched by this disease in some way or another, and its great to see so many selfless people giving their best efforts to make this event come to life each year.”

CSI skipper Michael Mauro agreed.  “This was a great night. It really is unbelievable how much money was raised tonight.  It makes it so much more worthwhile,” he said. “Nights like this make us look forward to doing it over and over again.  It was a great night no matter what the score.”

The over $7,400 in money raised in 2012 brings the overall tally to over $44,000 since the event was chartered nine years ago, and CSI intends to grow the game each year.  The amount raised included a $333 shot offered by Drew’s baseball squad, which turned over its meal money for the game to the effort, commemorated in a third-inning ceremony with Drew Athletic Director Jason Fein and Head Coach Brian Hirschberg.

The CSI men’s baseball team will now set its sights on the postseason. The team will enter the CUNYAC Postseason Tournament as the No. 2 seeded team in the four-team double-elimination tournament. They will play No. 3 John Jay College Thursday afternoon at 4pm at MCU Ballpark, in Brooklyn, New York.