It's not often a special moment involves an X-ray machine.
But it did 2 days ago for Anthony Cafagna, and only his gentlemanly nature prevented him from exhanging hugs and/or kisses with assorted doctors and nurses.
High-five exchanges? Right hand only.
While watching Cafagna long-toss yesterday before an important Inter-Ac League baseball game involving visiting Chestnut Hill Academy and Haverford School, and seeing that someone was catching return throws for him, one might have muttered, "Check out that kid. What is he, a prima donna?"
Nah, just a primo pitcher getting a little help, because he was fresh off an injury.
While getting picked off first base April 25 in a win over Germantown Academy, Cafagna broke a bone in his left hand. He hoped to make it back for Tuesday's league finale at Penn Charter, but the timetable instead was pushed forward.
Thanks in large part to Cafagna, a 6-3, 195-pound righthander bound for Richmond, CHA (8-1) already has clinched a share of its first title since 1989. GA (7-2) and Malvern Prep (6-2) are hanging around.
The Blue Devils triumphed, 5-4, as Cafagna pitched a four-hitter, with 12 strikeouts and nary a walk (though he did drill one batter).
Around his left hand, tucked into his glove, he wore a thin, protective pad made of foam and plastic. Just to be safe, he tried to catch everything in the webbing. And there wasn't too much pain when that wasn't possible.
"The injury was a real disappointment," Cafagna said. "That was the first stretch of games I missed in 4 years here. Couldn't bat, couldn't pitch, couldn't do anything. It's your senior year, plus the team's doing great. Very frustrating.
"It didn't feel bad when it happened. But as I ran off the field, I felt something clicking, or that something was loose. I thought, 'Maybe a sprain.' But as I took off my batting glove, I felt stuff grinding and moving around.
"I got an X-ray last Thursday, and the doctor said it was looking better. He said he'd do another this Thursday and that maybe there was a chance . . . When he said it was OK, I was happy. Make that real happy."
Cafagna said his fastball was clocked at 88 mph last June, and he appeared to be throwing at least that hard yesterday. He fanned six of the first nine batters and five of the last seven.
Problems? Yeah, a couple. Third baseman Mike Galetta, a lefty-swinging Boston College signee, crushed an 0-2 changeup for a solo homer down the rightfield line in the first inning. In the third, he went yard to almost dead center for a three-run shot.
The stars' third battle? Never happened. Galetta was replaced in the top of the fifth. Coach Bob Castell said only that Galetta was not injured and that his departure was "a coach's decision."
Galetta did remain on the bench and was the first Ford through the postgame handshake line.
"My fastball felt fine," Cafagna said. "But I threw good curveballs maybe two times and good changeups maybe three times. Maybe that was a side effect on not having a glove on my hand during bullpen sessions. I stuck mostly with fastballs.
"The pitches [to Galetta] were horrible. He got 'em. A hanging curve and a changeup that was meant to be off the plate, but got too much. He's a great hitter."
Galetta's second homer made it 4-3, then CHA posted two in the fourth. Energetic frosh Jon McAllister singled, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and used his speed to force a bad throw to the plate on a fielder's choice. Steel Russell singled home the go-ahead two batters later.
Russell and Mike Mattei halved four RBI while McAllister also doubled, stole two bases and scored three times. Maurice "Mo" Young (two runs) and Mike "Spike" Christiansen (double among two hits) helped out.
"A one-run game is a little nerve-wracking," said Cafagna, a Roxborough resident who opted for Richmond over Maryland. "All you can do is make your pitches and hope you stay on top.
"I've loved pitching since I was little. You have the ball in your hand all the time. You can control your destiny. If you make bad pitches, you're going to get hit. If you make good pitches . . . "
W's the result. Some of those follow good news concerning the X-word.
Evans to announce school
Northeast High's Sean Evans, the city's best two-sport athlete, will hold a 10 a.m. news conference Monday to announce his college decision.
Insiders seem to think his choice will be St. John's, for basketball.
The 6-7, 225-pound Evans was a second-team All-City selection in hoops and a first-teamer in football (as a defensive lineman). A while ago he decided to concentrate on basketball for college.
La Salle, Temple, Miami (Fla.), St. Bonaventure and Nebraska have joined St. John's in pushing hard.
Also, sources say Simon Gratz point guard Josh "Scrap" Martin has signed with Albany, and that a news conference will be held next week. *