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Bonner beat Frankford for city AAAA crown

IF "DELAYED REACTIONS" had a Facebook page, Jamie Juisti would be their biggest fan.

IF "DELAYED REACTIONS" had a Facebook page, Jamie Juisti would be their biggest fan.

He prefers to absorb, take stock, mull things over, before deciding how to proceed, or even how to react. And even then . . . Well, who knows?

The 6-1, 190-pound Juisti, a senior at Monsignor Bonner High and a football-baseball stalwart, intends to play both sports at Williamson Trade in Media, while pursuing his goal of becoming a carpenter and joining Steve Juisti Construction, which happens to be owned by his father.

Or does he?

"I had a lot of injuries through high school football," Juisti said. "Broke my hand twice. Had three concussions. It's getting a little old. Not worth it in the long run."

Oh, so he's not going to play football?

"Nah, I still will," he said, smiling. "I just have that love for the game. My parents are fine with it, too. They want to see me play for a couple more years."

Perhaps Juisti's thoughts on that matter explain how he wound up in Wildwood, N.J., on Wednesday, and even stayed overnight, after the Friars fell to Neumann-Goretti, 3-1, in eight innings, on Tuesday for the Catholic League baseball crown.

"I'm still not sure that has hit me," Juisti said. "Coach [Joe] DeBarberie gave us a day off from practice, and we didn't have school, so I thought it just made sense to get away for a little bit.

"It helped. I wasn't thinking about the loss, and I came back rejuvenated."

Juisti spoke Friday at Richie Ashburn Field in South Philly's FDR Park, after Bonner bested Frankford, 7-2, for the Class AAAA City Title.

Batting leadoff, the centerfielder hammered the first pitch he saw for a single down the leftfield line, scored later that inning on a very weird/controversial play, and wound up going 3-for-4 with a triple and one RBI.

Both teams already were assured of spots in the state playoffs, which begin Monday, and these players knew basically nada about each other, so the atmosphere was far from electric, and DeBarberie wasn't even subjected to a postgame dousing with water and/or ice cubes. But it's certainly better to head for states off one win than off two losses.

"Losing to Neumann was upsetting," Juisti said. "But after it's done, what can you really do about it? We knew the season wasn't over and that we had this big game to get ready for.

"All in all, after a tough loss, I'm doing OK. This is a good feeling."

In the top half of the first, Augusto Ortega jumped on Marty McKeone's first pitch and singled to center. Four batters later, he scored on a double by pitcher Brandon Gonzalez.

When his chance came, Juisti (JUST-eye) did not play copycat.

"I like being aggressive as a leadoff hitter," he said. "A lot of high school pitchers throw first-pitch fastballs, so I was sitting on that. He threw it, so I was swinging. Probably 95 percent of the time, I'm doing that."

Four batters later (notice a pattern?), with the bases loaded and one out, Joe Haley sent a popup way up there near the plate. With the infield fly (if fair) rule in effect, and wind causing major difficulties for catcher Eduardo "Cheese" Sanchez, the ball landed untouched on the chalk maybe 10 feet up the first-base line. As confusion momentarily reigned, Juisti raced home, and there was a major discussion over how to untangle the play.

Frankford coach Juan Namnun said plate ump Jim Carpino told him Sanchez touched the ball in fair territory after the first bounce.

"That's not remotely what happened," Namnun said. "It should have been ruled a foul ball."

Juisti laced his RBI triple in the second. Haley matched that feat in the third, and Jim Murphy followed with a perfectly executed squeeze. Pinch-hitter Joe Fuller (for one run) and Jim Haley (for two; he's Joe's brother) accounted for Bonner's three-spot in the sixth.

In a thoroughly messy seventh, four errors enabled Frankford, playing only a day after capturing the Public League title, to scratch out another run.

The Pioneers reached McKeone for four hits, and only one was posted beyond the first inning. He struck out two and walked that same number.

Juisti, who lives in Lansdowne, sees carpentry as something of a compromise.

"I don't want to go into [heavy] construction, like concrete," he said. "But I feel as though I'm good with my hands and that carpentry will be a great fit. Williamson's an awesome school for the trades, and I'll come out of there prepared to start my life.

"I work with my dad a little during the summer, when he needs me, but I can't say I have any serious experience yet."

He does with concussions.

"The worst was sophomore year. Varsity game against Interboro," he said. "I was going up to make a tackle and got clipped from behind. As that happened, my head snapped back and then went into the runner. Like a whiplash thing. I blacked out, but got up maybe 5 seconds later . . . I was out for about 2 weeks."

He added: "Baseball's my favorite. I'm lovin' it now. I'll stick with that all through Williamson. Football? We'll see how that goes." *