Robert Amato was simply perfect.
The Xaverian senior lefty tossed a perfect game in a 7–0 home victory against second-place Archbishop Molloy on April 11.
The game of his life came in the Clippers’ final home game this year, and its most important contest of the season, as it needed to win to secure the Brooklyn-Queens division crown.
“We knew we had to come out here and win to clinch our spot in the division,” Amato said. “I just wanted to pitch my game and make sure all my pitches were working. It was nerve racking, but I got the job done. I’ve never had a perfect game before, but it certainly was a good feeling.”
His pitching line on the night was flawless, seven innings, zero runs, zero hits, and seven strikeouts.
“You saw him at his best,” said Xaverian catcher Nicholas Terzulli. “He proved that he’s our ace. I tip my hat off to him, he pitched phenomenal.”
As Amato got closer and closer to reaching perfection, the pressure rose, and no inning had more pressure than the final frame. The inning’s first batter was Molloy junior Kevin Linitz. Linitz hit the ball between the mound and home plate, forcing Amato to jump forward and fire to first to just barely get Linitz out. Thomas Manetta hit a slow ground ball to Xaverian first baseman Xavier Vargas, who raced to the bag for the out.
“I felt more pressure there than I felt in the city championship,” Terzulli said. “That’s the level of intensity that we all had.”
The final batter, senior Scott Hannon, hit a ground ball right at shortstop Phoenix Hernandez. Hernandez stepped and fired a bullet to first. The throw forced Vargas to jump in the air and put a swipe tag on Hannon. Everyone held their breath and looked to the first base umpire, who raised his right fist in the air. Amato had achieved that rare baseball feat, the perfect game.
“Well, on the ground ball back to me, I didn’t think I was going to get it,” the ace said. “But as soon as I got it, I knew I had to throw it as quick as I could. The last play, I thought it was going to go over our first baseman’s head. I was kind of nervous. But thankfully the first baseman got it.”
The Xaverian bench stormed onto the field and mobbed Amato to congratulate him. His teammates then proceeded to give him a Gatorade bath. It was the perfect end to the perfect day on the hill.
“He needed this,” Xaverian head coach Frank Del George said of Amato. “He’s been pitching inconsistently — winning games, but being inconsistent. This is what we expected from him all year. We hope that he keeps it this way.”
The Xaverian offense displayed its prowess as well. It put together two big innings to really make Amato comfortable on the mound. In the first inning, the Clippers sent seven batters to the plate and scored three runs on four hits. In the fourth, the offense was able to capitalize on two Molloy errors and two hits to scratch three more runs. Anthony Scotti had two RBI.
“Overall our execution was very good today and our defense was superb,” Del George said. “Our game is pitching and defense. If we hit, that’s icing on the cake. I think we’re a bit of a better hitting team than we were last year.”
The victory also gave Xaverian a sweep of its three games against Molloy, which it beat in last year’s city championship round. It outplayed the Stanners in all facets.
“I just thought that he pitched great,” said Molloy head coach Brad Lyons of Amato. “But what they really did well today was situational hitting as a team. They didn’t try to do too much. They took advantage of every opportunity that we gave them.”