English’s Nelson Barreiro and Latin Academy’s Vincent Lopriore have had their share of battles in their careers, the city championship just one example.
The Boston Scholar Athletes baseball All-Star game at Harvard University’s O’Donnell field was no different, with each senior taking the mound for their last time as BPS scholar-athletes in the extra innings of the 5-5 tie.
“We’re completely competitive on the field,” Red team’s Lopriore said on Tuesday afternoon. “Not friends on the field, but off the field, I think he’s one of the nicest kids I’ve ever met.”
That competitiveness was clear after the Blue team erased the Red team’s 4-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning.
With two outs, Burke’s Elvin Perez got the rally started with a single off of Latin Academy’s Mark Guerard. New Mission’s Ansel Rivera brought the senior home with an RBI double.
After New Mission's Andy Gonzalez was hit by a pitch, Snowden’s Louis Medina hit a shot off of the left field fence to bring both runners home and tie the game, 4-4.
The Red team scored in the bottom of the sixth as Rivera allowed their first two batters to get on base. That’s when Barreiro, who had pitched last Sunday for his club team, told Blue team coach Ricardo Figueroa he had to take the mound.
“I don’t want to lose against Latin Academy boys,” Barreiro said. “I’m just trying to win the game and I work hard for that.”
Barreiro got the Blue team out of the inning, but not before Boston International’s Derlin Tejeda brought home Fenway’s Manuel Alvarez on a sacrifice fly to give the Red team a 5-4 lead.
East Boston’s Manuel Martinez started the top of the seventh with a single off of South Boston’s Mario Pina, causing Lopriore to also request a trip to the mound from Red team coach Rusty Young.
“I’m not really familiar with Vincent, but he pitched phenomenal and he had a terrific season for Latin Academy,” the Dorchester coach said.
Lopriore had also started the game for the Red team, causing Figueroa to argue the substitution with the umpires.
“I want to see all the players come here and have fun but when I see stuff like only going with one guy because he’s good and you think he’s better than others, I don’t feel happy,” Figueroa said. “I want to see everybody playing and whatever happens at the end, we’re going to take it.”
After a sacrifice bunt by English’s Alberto Navarro, and two drawn walks to Brighton’s Jose Valenzuela and O’Bryant’s Fernando Burgos, the bases were loaded for English’s Miguel Lorenzo.
Lorenzo hit a short pop-up along the third baseline causing the umpires to declare the infield fly rule. Upon seeing Lopriore and third baseman Frank Rosario collide and drop the ball, Martinez scored from third base.
The umpires ruled that because catcher Dan O’Connell did not tag Martinez but rather just stepped on home plate, the run counted.
“We had bases loaded when it happened. The rule is after the batter has been called out all of the force-outs are no longer in place,” Figueroa said. “I didn’t see the catcher tag the runner, I just saw him tag the plate for the force out.”
After the play was called, O’Connell could be heard saying that he not only tagged the plate but also Martinez.
“The pitcher and the third baseman collided, picked up the ball, the third baseman tagged the runner and he was on the plate,” Young said.
When asked again if he thought Rosario, not O’Connell tagged the runner, Young confirmed it was the third baseman.
“The force play was off because it was an infield fly rule,” Young said. “The runner advances at their own peril, so he was out in our eyes, but they allowed the run to score which tied the game.”
On the next play, the Blue team looked like they had the game won after Lopriore threw a wild pitch against O’Bryant’s Brandon Ruiz, giving Valenzuela an attempt to steal home from third.
“I knew he beat me to the plate, so I was just trying to block the plate as much as I can so I just dove in front of the plate,” Lopriore said. “Dan [O’Connell] threw it right at me, I tagged him and he was out.”
The game remained deadlocked after Barreiro and Lopriore pitched shutout seventh and eighth innings.
Their relationship was exemplified when Barreiro skimmed Lopriore’s helmet in the eighth inning. Even though the tension between the two teams was at its highest, Barreiro quickly ran to check if the Latin Academy pitcher was OK.
Lopriore initially denied being hit so that he could have another shot against his friendly rival, before being called hit by the first plate umpire.
“We’ve been so close with Latin Academy and English over the years, it was great to end with a tie,” Lopriore said.
However, the two pitchers are on the cusp of a new beginning. They will both be playing baseball for Curry College next fall.
“He’s a good hitter, he’s a good player too and I have played with him since I was a sophomore,” Barreiro said. “He’s a good kid and always when I play against him I say, ’I love you, man’ because he knows how to play the game.”
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