Flashback Friday has looked back at the top moments from the 2017-18 athletic year each Friday over the summer at the College of Staten Island. Our countdown has reached its pinnacle, and is there any doubt that CSI Baseball and their thrilling comebacks in early-May would take top billing? The Dolphins came back not once, but twice against John Jay College to lift the CUNYAC Championship for the fourth consecutive year, and it merits the No. 1 position in our countdown.
#1 – CSI Baseball – Two improbable comebacks give CSI CUNYAC Championship over John Jay
Date: May 5, 2018
Who: CSI Baseball
Where: CSI Baseball Complex – Staten Island, NY
What Happened: CSI came back not once, but twice, against John Jay to capture their fourth-straight CUNYAC title for the second time in their history. In the Final game, CSI was down 6-0 going into the bottom of the eighth before they pieced together an eight-run, seven-hit, inning helped along by two JJC errors to score the comeback, getting the win after John Jay loaded the bases in the ninth inning. Anthony DiMarco was named Most Valuable Player of the Tournament. CSI needed two wins on the day, and rallied back in the opener to force extra innings, winning it in extra frames, 5-4.
.Q&A…with Head Coach Michael Mauro
Mike, the baseball championship win over John Jay was ranked No. 1 on our Flashback Friday countdown by CSI Staffers. What was it like being a part of such a tremendous afternoon of baseball?
It was such an exciting afternoon of baseball for the kids, coaches and the campus and I was proud of my team that afternoon.
You certainly like to come out of the loser’s bracket. Three years in a row now. Is there something about having your backs up against a wall that motivates this team?
I don’t think anything scares us anymore. We know what it takes to come back and win and having that confidence makes it easier for us when our backs are against the wall.
To get to the championship, you had to rebound nicely against Finlandia, and with pitching being limited, you gave the ball to Christian Capellan to start the day on just one day’s rest. What can you say about that performance by him to start game one and go a full nine innings?
He stepped up as a great leader should. He wasn’t afraid to take the ball on such short rest and it showed the type of competitor he is.
Even with Chris Capellan’s great start, your still down 4-3 late and it’s an Anthony DiMarco hit that sends it to extra innings. How much confidence does a hit like that give the team?
Having Anthony in that position we knew we had a great chance to score some runs and he came through for the team. It was a huge boost for the squad because momentum is everything and that helped carry us to victory.
You later win the game in the 11th, setting up a winner-take-all Final with John Jay again. This team has been in that situation before so you guys must have been confident with the position you were in, right?
We weren’t worried at all, we had been there the past three years in the same position and took a calm approach and everyone stepped up.
After that comeback, it must feel pretty helpless when you see the team fall behind 6-0 after seven innings. Describe what was happening, and why the team struggled in those innings.
John Jay jumped ahead early and we weren’t hitting. John Jay’s momentum was carrying them through the first eight innings. It’s a helpless feeling watching them score all of those runs but once we caught fire in the eighth the momentum changed in our favor.
We get to the eighth inning and this team turned on a switch that was simply remarkable. When do you see the tide starting to turn in your favor?
When Pomerico reached with a base hit I saw the faces in our dugout and I knew that everyone wanted to grab a bat at that point. That’s when the tide turned in our favor and I knew we had a shot at completing the comeback.
The team hit three doubles in that inning, and the one by Jett Nouvertne tied the game and then DiMarco’s gave you the lead. Was that the most memorable moment of the season for you?
I can’t pick one moment that was the most memorable because this team fought back so many times this season so it’s tough for me to choose one but what I can say those two doubles won us the 2018 championship.
CSI has a flair for drama, and even up 8-6, John Jay loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but Tom Musso got out of the jam, and the team prevailed. There was a lot of emotion in the celebration postgame. Tell me a little about that, and what a win like this meant for a team that sometimes struggled this past season?
It was a huge win for the team especially for our senior pitcher Thomas Musso and he hung in there and was able to get that last out. In 11 years this was the most emotional win that we’ve had and there were so many personal stories with the team and I won’t get into it but that’s what made it so special.
Anthony (DiMarco) won the MVP, and it was well-deserved, but the Tournament Capellan had was absolutely amazing. Eighteen innings pitched over three days, and the guys like Jentz and Musso coming in on back-to-back days. There were big clutch pinch-hits, great base-running. How does it feel knowing so many hands had to contribute in order for this team to be so successful?
It was a great feeling that this was a total team effort and that MVP award could have gone to several team members although DiMarco deserved it he shared it with the entire team.
Finally Mike, you’ve been with this team over a decade, and in 2019, there is an NCAA bid on the line. The bar at CSI has been high for a long time, what are your expectations for the coming year especially knowing how much is on the line moving forward?
I’ve waited for this opportunity for a decade I’m going to try and keep the same calm approach we’ve used over the years and hopefully make it to our first NCAA appearance.