More than ever, especially in light of the wacky circumstances, Mike Piscopo wanted to leave the baseball field with a sunny disposition.
Thirty-six minutes and numerous adventures later, he did.
The 6-1, 190-pound Piscopo, a senior, serves La Salle High as mostly a third baseman and part-time reliever, usually in save situations. In a game that began Thursday and concluded Friday, and wasn't interrupted by rain or tragic circumstance or anything else that might come easily to mind, Piscopo filled both roles.
And he likely will be telling the stories forever.
First, about how the Catholic Red game at Monsignor Bonner was suspended in the visiting 11th inning Thursday because the sun, quickly dipping in dead centerfield, was creating a safety hazard. Second, about how the action resumed at 2 p.m. Friday, in front of maybe 25 spectators, and Piscopo needed only two pitches to score from first base and give his squad a 3-2 lead.
There'd be much more - La Salle won, 10-3 - but that sequence was certainly memorable.
Piscopo had sent a looping single to center to start the 11th on Thursday. The action was halted at 6:17 and everyone was sent home at 6:54 after a fruitless wait for the sun to sufficiently change its angle. On Friday, while also expecting a bunt from Colin Pyne, the Friars figured they might be able to schnooker Piscopo. As first baseman Ronnie Scull charged, Rich Tecco scrambled over from second and catcher Dan Furman fired a pickoff throw.
Oops, it was wide and Piscopo made it to third. Next pitch from Joe Haley? It was wild and when it arrived at the backstop, it hit a pole and took a wild bounce toward La Salle's dugout.
Piscopo zipped home, no sweat. The Day 2 tone was set.
"That got the inning started nicely," he understated.
He added, "When we left here [Thursday], we didn't know how to feel. But then we decided, real quick, that we wanted to come in here and win it as fast as possible. We came in here pumped up.
"Our rides [in school vans] are always filled with joking around, songs playing on the radio . . . We just have fun. We're never tense. We're a very relaxed team and that's one of the reasons we're good. Coach [Joe Parisi] said, 'Let's go in there, score a couple runs, then get out.' That's what we did."
Um, not exactly. The Explorers dropped an eight spot. An infield bobble made four of the runs unearned, but La Salle posted six hits (counting Piscopo's) and RBI on singles were provided by Ryan Otis, Corey Baiada and Tyler Kozeniewski (for two runs, on his second hit of the inning).
Dom Cuoci (seven) and John Scheffey had pitched the first 10 frames for La Salle. Scull had gone the first nine for Bonner before yielding to Haley.
"Coach told me originally that if we took the lead, I'd go in to pitch," said Piscopo, who will play his college baseball at Northeastern. "But on the ride over here, he asked me how my arm felt and I said, 'Good.' So, he told me I'd be our pitcher no matter what."
After a flyout started the bottom half, Bonner scored on consecutive singles by Frank Saviski, Scull, Haley and Furman. Cole Trickel then hit a chopper that traveled maybe 15 feet toward the mound on the first-base side. Piscopo pounced and fired. Bink! The ball bounced off the back of Trickel's helmet and went bounding away.
Bonner was going to have two more runs and all kinds of momentum.
Plate ump Dave Cohen (Bruce Martin, Thursday's guy, was unavailable) roared out from behind the dish and called Trickel out because he'd been running inside the base line. All runners were ordered back to their bases. Tecco then tapped one to Piscopo, who kept the ball and ran over to step hard on the bag.
"I figure the safest place for the ball is in my hands," he noted, smiling.
Of the near-disaster, he said, "After I made that throw, I knelt down and was super upset with myself. When something like that happens, it can cause a whole inning to fall apart. We caught a pretty big break. I was pretty happy when I heard [Cohen] make his call."
As the Explorers walked back across the diamond to their vans, Parisi said the resumption had forced them to make an early departure from Field Day (assorted fun, outdoor activities on campus).
"At the end, everybody gets water ice. The kids were pretty upset about missing that," he said with a laugh. "So now, we're going from here to the Rita's on City Line Avenue."
Maybe, through some kind of special agreement, Rita's was offering a flavor called Sunny Delight.
Contact Ted Silary at firstname.lastname@example.org.