Losing is never fun, but it is sometimes a necessary evil.
Take Xaverian, for example, lost its first league game, a 5-4 defeat at Archbishop Molloy in Briarwood on April 18.
“We have talent up and down the lineup, but we’re taking everything for granted and we shouldn’t do that,” Xaverian star catcher Elvin Soto said. “I like the fact that we lost today because it makes us eager to come out next game and kick some [butt].”
That might not bode well for Monsignor McClancy, the Clippers’ next opponent, but Xaverian didn’t have that vim and vigor in a battle of undefeated teams atop the CHSAA Class AA Brookyln/Queens division.
Molloy sure did, though. After Eric Kalman put Xaverian in front with a two-run home run to left in the top of the fifth, the Stanners quickly tied the game in the bottom of the inning, capitalizing on two infield errors.
The Clippers also had a costly error in Molloy’s three-run third inning.
“I just don’t think we were mentally ready,” Xaverian coach Lou Piccola said.
Xaverian seems especially vulnerable against left-handers and Molloy has a good one in Mike Auriemmo, who scattered five hits and didn’t allow an earned run in his second complete-game victory of the year.
However, Auriemmo wasn’t untouchable. The Clippers had runners on base in each of the first five innings, but couldn’t plate the tying run. After scoring twice in the fourth to get within one, Xaverian had runners at first and second with one out, but Domingo Sosa struck out and Kevin Martir grounded out to second.
An inning earlier, Xaverian had runners at second and third with one out, but Auriemmo bore down to get Kalman to pop out in the infield and Soto flew out to right.
Xaverian had the tying run at third with two outs in the fifth, but Ray Vega popped out to right as the Clippers stranded six runners.
“We just didn’t hit with runners in scoring position today. We had a couple of opportunities,” Piccola said. “One pitch changes the whole count, 3-0 is a little different than 2-1. I don’t think we made [Auriemmo] work enough. That was a big part of it.”
While James Passarella was uncharacteristically wild, giving up five runs, two earned, on six hits in three innings, Blaise Scerbo pitched three solid innings of relief, striking out five with just two hits.
The right-hander was a rare bright spot for the Clippers.
“You never want to lose a game, but you’d rather lose a game up front than deep down the road,” Soto said. “Last year we lost to Bishop Ford late and went into the playoffs kind of down on ourselves. Now we can use this as a builder. We just want to let all the anger out on McClancy.”