Rye Country Day Head Coach Ryan Quinn probably summed it up best: “It was a crazy few days.” His top-seeded Wildcat baseball team was down 2-1 in the 7th inning against Hamden Hall in the semifinals of the Fairchester Athletic Association post-season tournament. “Owen Coady threw a brilliant 6 1/3 innings before we were able to scrape together a couple of runs in our final ups. Enzo Stefanoni singled in the tying run, then shortstop Cole Price beat out an infield single to the first basemen to score Enzo. Cole’s speed gave us the walk-off win and it gave Enzo — who’d come on in relief of Owen —his 41st career win for a new State record.”
Two days later, number one faced number two in the finals at the Grandview Avenue field. Stefanoni got the start against Brunswick. Coach Quinn had held him out of the two regular season games against the team’s Greenwich nemesis, and it worked. “They hadn't seen him this season and he had them off balance the entire game.”
The locals took an early lead on a Harrison Kadish single to go up 2-0 and then Coady made it 4-0 when his base hit drove in two more runs in the third. The final score that earned the FAA’s regular-season champions the post-season title as well was 4-2. It extended Stefanoni’s New York career record to 42 victories, and it came against a team he’d never beaten in his five years on the mound.
When Coach Quinn said it was a crazy few days, he was understating things. The Wildcats went from champs to chumps the next afternoon, getting clobbered 17-3 by Horace Mann in the opener of the New York State Association of Independent Schools tourney. “Enzo and Owen weren’t available to pitch,” the coach said, “we got unlucky early with some bloop hits and errors, and the game just spiraled real quick.”
Oh well. Coach Quinn’s first year guiding the Wildcats was one for the books. “Coming into the season we knew we would be solid on the mound, but the offense really was the surprise. Joe Burns was unbelievable at the top of our lineup, constantly getting on to start off innings. I am really proud of how this team came together and exceeded expectations all year.
“Surprises? Forbes Crowley won the first base job and stayed in the four hole in our lineup after a shoulder injury last year derailed a promising catching career. Jack Bronsky took over second base and the two spot in our order after not playing much in 2016. Cole Price also delivered in the big spots. He had a bases-clearing triple late in the season against King when we were down, and beating out that high chopper against Hamden Hall was huge.
“Kadish, Coady, Troy Kesselmark, and Aldo Stefanoni, Enzo’s brother, at the bottom of our lineup were all dangerous. There was no easy out.”
Consider these stats for the season: With Harvard-bound Stefanoni and Coady leading the charge at 1.02 and 1.53 earned runs a game, the team’s pitching ERA was a minuscule 1.87 runs a game. The Wildcats’ batting average was .318, and their on-base percentage was .427, good for 110 runs scored in 18 games. Coach Quinn smiled at those numbers. “Six-plus runs a game will win a bunch of times.”
And so they did, finishing at 13-4 overall. Not bad for a first-year coach.