The Xaverian Clippers had been struggling at the plate for a little while now. They were shutout by Kennedy on Thursday and then they managed to beat Iona Prep just 1-0 on Friday. They were trailing 1-0 headed into the fourth inning on Sunday and manager Frank Del George began to wonder where they were going to get runs from.
“It’s been a while with the bats,” Del George said. “Our pitching has been great all season long, but they never get any support from our offense. Sometimes you need that support just to be able to relax a little bit on the mound.”
Xaverian starter Rob Amato finally got that run support in the fourth inning as the Clippers broke through with three runs en route to a 6-1 victory over Salesian High School in Queens on Sunday. The win sends them to the Catholic High School Athletic Association’s AA quarterfinals.
“They really stepped up today,” Amato said of the offense. “After the loss in the first round of the playoffs our bats haven’t really been there. We knew that we had to get the offense going.”
The Clippers were helped out a bit by Salesian’s wild starter, who hit Anthony Scotti and walked Chris Amato and Nicholas Meola to start the fourth inning. That lead to an RBI single to left by Anthony Barbati to get them on the board followed by a two-RBI double by Brandon Torres to give Xaverian a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
“I think our guys really didn’t want the season to end this way,” Torres said. “We don’t want to feel that we let the team down because we didn’t hit so everyone was focused. Especially me because I was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in our last game. I knew that I needed a big hit.”
Xaverian added three more in the fifth when Christopher Iacono led off the inning with a single to left. He eventually scored on an RBI single by Meola, Chris Amato successfully stole home on a double-steal and Meola then came around when Barbati reached on an error.
Salesian’s manager Kevin Del Valle was ejected from the game in the fifth inning after Chris Amato stole home. It was a close play and Del Valle immediately charged the plate yelling at the umpire, “Why are you so bad today?”
Those couple of offensive outbursts gave Rob Amato a chance to go for the win, but first he had to get through Andy Camilo, a stocky power-hitting catcher that homered off of a hanging curveball in the first inning.
Amato kept him from doing much damage in the seventh, but he walked Camilo and allowed the next batter to single which put him in a tough spot. Fortunately, Amato was able to get the third batter in the inning to line back to the mound to start a 1-6-3 double play.
“That was huge right there,” Amato said of the double play. “I was trying to pitch around (Camilo) in that inning and that got me in a bit of trouble. I was getting pretty tired too so that double play got the adrenaline pumping and gave me more energy to get the final batter.”
Amato allowed just one run in seven innings on two hits, three walks and nine strikeouts for the win.
Xaverian doesn’t have much time to bask in this victory as they will face Kennedy, the same team that beat them 10-0 on Thursday, in the quarterfinals. The winner of that game will take on St. Joe’s in the semifinals on Wednesday.