Two varsity starts, two huge early-game leads, two wins. Xaverian ace Steve Pastrana has to wonder if this is going to happen every time he steps on the mound.
“When you get that run support, it’s way easier to pitch,” the junior hurler said. “You’re more relaxed on the mound, it gives you more room for error. It makes me a better pitcher overall.”
Pastrana improved to 2-0 on the season, tossing six shutout innings as Xaverian defeated Archbishop Molloy, 10-7, in Brooklyn on April 19.
The Clippers scored nine runs in the second inning and took a 10-run lead into the top of the seventh. But the ‘B’ team infielders booted the ball around something awful as five errors led to seven Stanners runs. A blowout victory suddenly turned into a needless nail biter.
In his first varsity start last Monday at MCU Park, Pastrana had a 7-0 lead after two innings to work with against St. Francis Prep. This time, Xaverian (5-0) scored nine runs in the second inning against Molloy ace John Duggan.
The Clippers sent 12 batters to the plate and had seven hits – two by catcher Elvin Soto, who ignited the lopsided inning with a leadoff single to center. Skyler Ortiz delivered the death blow, a two-run home run to right to cap the scoring. All nine Xaverian starters reached safely in the game with eight scoring at least once.
“It basically starts with one guy,” said Soto, who was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the second inning alone. “In this case I started off the inning and it kept going. Skyler came through with that big home run. None of us want to be the last out of the inning.”
With a super-sized cushion to work with, Pastrana, who struck out six and walked one, gave up just three hits through four innings before three straight two-out singles in the fifth. Pastrana bore down, though, and got Dean Sadik, the Stanners No. 3 hitter, to line out to third.
“The 3-4-5 hitters are supposed to be their big hitters, Ramos, Loprete and Sadik, he started them with changeups and ended them with changeups,” Soto said. “It worked out pretty good because he kept the hitters off balance.”
With Xaverian comfortably ahead, Eric Wlasluk came in to work the seventh and had a second-team infield behind him. The Clippers immediately imploded. Every infielder made an error as Molloy (2-2) scored five runs on just two hits to get within 10-7. With Patrick O’Grady, who twice reached on errors in the inning, at second, Mike Auriemmo grounded out to second to end the bizarre rally.
“We got very, very careless. But I’m not surprised we made mistakes,” Xaverian coach Lou Piccola said. “For six innings we looked like a pretty good team. In the seventh inning we looked like a freshman ‘B’ team. It’s unacceptable.”
The late scare aside, Xaverian remains one of three undefeated teams in the CHSAA one day after being named the No. 1 team in the city by The Post. It’s a ranking the Clippers take seriously.
“It’s a big job. When you’re named the No. 1 team in the city, you have to back it up every game,” Pastrana said. “Even with a 10-run lead, you can’t back down.”