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Veteran Xaverian squad has sights set on repeat baseball crowns

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The Xaverian baseball team rebounded from an error-ridden loss to St. Francis Prep with two lopsided victories over Archbishop Molloy last week.

The Clippers beat Molloy 7–0 on April 15 and continued their dominance of the young Stanners the next day with an 11–5 Catholic League win in Briarwood.

The back-to-back wins came after a demoralizing loss to St. Francis Prep earlier this month, when late errors let a lead slip away and reminded the Xaverian players that they need to be on their games at all times if they hope to become the first team to repeat as Catholic city champions since Molloy did so in 1978.

“I think it was a wake up call for me,” said junior Nick Meola. “We know we have the talent to be a good team. We are still trying to find ourselves, which I think we are starting to do.”

Against Molloy, Xaverian’s top three hitters – Phoenix Hernandez, Joe Vitacco, and Anthony Scotti – combined to go five-for-12 with six runs batted in and six runs scored. Scotti, playing on a tender ankle, also delivered a 325-foot solo homer over the high fence in left field to make it 7–0. Xaverian pounded out 10 hits.

Clippers coach Frank Del George said he wasn’t surprised.

“We are a veteran team this is what they are supposed to do,” he said. “We are supposed to be hitting the ball pretty good by this time. This is what we expect them to do.”

Del George has the luxury of having the majority of his everyday lineup back, including outfielder Chris Nierva. Xaverian doesn’t have the same reliable pitching it did a year ago after losing Anthony Sigismondi and Jeff Manzi to graduation. Rob Amato is the team’s ace. Senior John Bini will also see the ball regularly. Meola, who is being asked to pitch until other reliable arms emerge, allowed no runs on two hits over four innings to Molloy.

In the April 16 match up, the Stanners scored five times in the bottom of the seventh with the help of errors. Jonathan Fonseca, Joseph Gallo, and Joseph Papandrea all saw time on the mound against Molloy. Meola, who pitched sparingly last year, is more than happy to help and the Clippers offense knows it may have to pick its pitching up right now.

“This early we do,” the Seton Hall-bound Scotti said. “Toward the end of the season, once we get everything going, we will be fine.”

Xaverian won the city title in a season its coach felt at the outset would be a rebuilding year. Now it is the favorite to win this time, and the team has every intention of accomplishing the repeat feat no team has been able to pull off in nearly four decades.

“That’s our goal,” Meola said. “Anything short of that would be a disappointment to us. We are trying to make history.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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