On May 17, Nazareth Academy baseball coach Lee Milano recorded his 500th career victory in walk-off fashion as the Roadrunners rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat visiting Benet Academy 4-3.
“I am an extremely blessed individual,” Milano said. “I have worked with great coaches, families, players, and administrators over the years. All 500 are at Nazareth and it’s a program achievement. I have been able to have my four boys in the program and they were there on Monday, which was extra special.”
Two of Milano’s sons — seniors Anthony and Joseph — are on this year’s team. Joseph, who was the starting pitcher in the Roadrunners’ 4-1 victory at Fenwick May 20, described his feelings about his father’s accomplishment.
“He was 20 wins away [at the start of the season], and we knew this team could do it,” Joseph said. “To be a part of it, and to get it on a walk-off, that was a fun moment.”
Both Anthony and Joseph Milano are committed to play at Morton College next year. Anthony Milano suffered a serious knee injury before this season, and his availability was in serious doubt, but he recently has returned to action.
“There weren’t many medical professionals that recommended he play; they recommended surgery immediately,” Lee Milano said. “He proved through a physical therapist’s workouts that he could play. … He has helped us since his return. He was one of our top hitters entering the season.”
Lee Milano graduated from Fenwick in 1981, and his coach from that time, Dave Hogan – still coaching the Friars — offered his appreciation.
“He deserves his success,” Hogan said. “He works hard and has an excellent program year in and year out. He does a great job and I’m proud of him.”
Milano thanked Hogan for his continued support and encouragement.
“I believe every experience you have in life molds the person you are in the present,” he said. “Dave Hogan has always helped me during high school, while in college, and throughout my coaching career.”
In Nazareth’s win at Fenwick, Luke Brabham collected three hits and drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth to break a 1-1 tie.
But the Roadrunners scored two insurance runs in the seventh. Luca Fiore and Kevin Fantozzi, both pinch hitters, led off the frame with singles, then with one out freshman Nick Drtina doubled to bring home Fiore. Lucas Smith then drove in Fantozzi with a double.
“Nick did a good job,” said Lee Milano. “The freshmen who are on varsity wouldn’t be here if they didn’t belong.”
The Friars (5-11) loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a pair of Nazareth errors, but Drtina struck out Pearse Gorman and Luke Coffey to seal the victory.
“That’s been our bugaboo all year. We get an opportunity, but we just can’t open the door,” said Hogan.
Luis Gonzalez pitched six solid innings for Fenwick, allowing two runs, seven hits, and a walk with four strikeouts.
Nazareth (21-7) has four games remaining before the state tournament.
Fenwick bounced back May 22 with an extra-inning 3-2 victory at St. Ignatius. Robert Pauly got the win with two scoreless innings of relief, and Will Mazzocchi, who had doubled to start the eighth, scored the go-ahead run with two outs on a dropped third strike.
With six games remaining in the regular season, the Friars hope their bats will heat up in time for the postseason.