Jesse Berardi is the type of player whose uniform whites generally are dirt brown by the first couple of innings.
On Monday night, he proved he is the type of player whose uniform whites generally are dirt brown by the first couple of innings even after he's been drafted.
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Even after he's secured a spot on the St. John's team.
Even in an all-star exhibition game.
Even when the play is a two-out chopper to first base and his team has the lead.
Berardi busted out of the box in the fourth inning of the Nassau/Suffolk Blue Chip Prospects Grand Slam Challenge at Farmingdale State and reached on an infield single.
The hit didn't end up meaning anything in the grand scheme of things, as Nassau won in the bottom of the ninth, 7-6. But the Commack shortstop, who was drafted by the Phillies in the 40th round earlier this month, again demonstrated the qualities that have made coaches and scouts stop and take notice.
"I'm pretty disappointed, because we lost,'' he said. "But it was a really great game . . . and it's awesome to have everyone here and have one last time to play with them.''
Berardi made a nifty defensive play in the first inning, ranging to his left to grab a ball hit up the middle, and opened the scoring for Suffolk in the third, smacking a two-run triple that drove in Tim Gorton (Smithtown Christian) and Steven Foster (Sachem North) and drew Suffolk within 4-2. Suffolk scored five runs in the frame to take the lead.
Berardi went 2-for-3 with a walk and was named Suffolk MVP. Despite the game's jovial atmosphere, though, Berardi, ever the gamer, just wished there had been one more chance to pull it out for Suffolk. "I take it like every other high school game,'' he said. "You want to represent where you come from.''
He patted his dirt-smeared Suffolk jersey and said, "I want to represent Commack . . . It matters.''
For Berardi, it always seems to matter.