St. Anthony’s celebrates after defeating Holy Trinity in Game 2 of the CHSAA...

St. Anthony’s celebrates after defeating Holy Trinity in Game 2 of the CHSAA baseball finals at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Sunday. Credit: Howard Simmons

After losing its second straight game to St. Dominic on April 10, the St. Anthony’s baseball coaches and captains held a pointed – yet necessary – two-hour team meeting.

“We started seeing that [coach Paul Parsolano] started losing a little bit of hope in us and maybe was going to start looking into building a new team for next year,” sophomore first baseman CJ Alfano said. “... We didn’t want that to happen because we knew the team that we were and we wanted to win.”

“It was kind of just like, we have to play better,” junior righthanded pitcher Lucas Miller recalled. “At that point, we were averaging three, four hits a game, and it was just like, we gotta turn this around. It’s now or never.”

The Friars’ response was resounding. St. Anthony’s won 17 of its next 21 games, and the third-seeded Friars swept reigning state champion and No. 4 Holy Trinity in the best-of-three NSCHSAA finals on Sunday at Mitchel Field, 6-3 and 4-3 (nine innings), to win their first title in 24 years and fifth in program history.

“The last one we got was in 2000, and that was when I was the assistant to John Newman, whose initials we’re actually wearing on our hat this year because Johnny passed over the [offseason],” said Parsolano, the Friars head coach since 2019 and an assistant from 1997-2007.

“For us to win this championship with his initials on the side of our hat this year, when the last one we won was when he was the head coach, it just makes it a full-circle lifetime situation. It really is literally a picture-perfect ending.”

Newman passed away at 67 on July 12, 2023, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. Parsolano called the beginning of their time together “the golden era of the Catholic league,” and he was thinking about him a lot Sunday night as the Friars snapped the title drought.

Alfano was named championship series MVP, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a two-run homer in Game 1 and scoring a run in Game 2.

“Honestly, there are no words,” Alfano said. “Being so young, it’s really indescribable because I never thought it would happen. But it was definitely driven by a bunch of guys in the dugout, and most of them deserve it more than I do.”

In Game 2, Miller got the start. Miller, who pitched zero league innings all season, had a ganglion cyst removed from his shoulder in spring 2023 and had surgery in November to repair a torn labrum. He got the call Sunday and allowed just two hits and two earned runs in 4 ⅓ innings.

“It felt great that they had confidence in me to go out there and do my job, especially after not throwing for most of the season,” Miller said. “I felt like the whole team was behind me, just supporting me, and I had a little fan club throwing my bullpen.”

St. Anthony’s trailed 2-0 with two outs in the sixth inning of Game 2, but Phil Mazzola had an RBI fielder’s choice and Alex Bono hit an RBI single to even things. The game ultimately went to extras, and the teams traded runs in the eighth: St. Anthony’s scored on an E6 and Jalen Josey hit an RBI single for Holy Trinity.

Anthony Carlo finally scored the winning run on a ninth-inning passed ball, and Joe Pritchard shut the door with a one-inning save. Michael Carr came in from third base to make the final out with what Parsolano called a “Willie Mays-style” basket catch.

St. Anthony’s will play Archbishop Molloy in the CHSAA ‘AA’ state semifinal at Fordham on June 7.

“We’re like a family,” Alfano said. “There’s nothing that’s gonna stop us from winning that state championship.”


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