There were no dominating ace pitchers like Ruddy Lugo or Pedro Beato, or, as it turned out, any stud seniors selected in the Major League Draft.
But one thing this Xaverian team had in common with the powerhouse squads of the past was that it proved beyond a reasonable doubt at the end of the CHSAA baseball season that there was no one better.
The Clippers did that emphatically Friday night, defeating All Hallows, 7-1, to win the CHSAA Class AA championship tournament title at Kaiser Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University.
It was Xaverian’s seventh Catholic title and first since 2008.
“We play in the best league in the city, whether it be public private, whatever,” Xaverian coach Lou Piccola said. “And today the better team won. I think today just proves the quality of our program.”
There was no one to argue that as the X-Men jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead, capitalizing on a two-out error by All Hallows third baseman Lance Montano. They added two more runs in the third as All Hallows centerfielder Joe Morel lost Elvin Soto’s high fly ball to left-center in the lights and the University of Pittsburgh-bound catcher scored on a wild pitch.
Soto used not getting selected in the Major League Draft as motivation Friday night, going 2-for-2 with two RBIs.
“I could have just crumbled up and been upset at the world, but I came out here and gave it my all to get the championship trophy and now I’m just fitting my ring,” Soto said.
By being patient and having quality at-bats, Xaverian (21-2) made All Hallows ace James Norwood work and the St. Louis University-bound right-hander, who was pitching on three days rest for the second consecutive outing, was pulled after throwing 89 pitches in 3-2/3 innings.
He gave up four runs, two earned, on four hits, striking out five with two walks for his second loss of the season. The first came earlier in the double-elimination tournament against Archbishop Molloy when he was again the victim of some shoddy defense.
“The key to the win was putting pressure on them early, running a little bit and having Norwood out there longer than he should be out there,” said Piccola, who returned to coach last year after a 12-year hiatus and guided the Clippers to their first title in 1990.
Fourth-seeded All Hallows (17-9), which came out of the loser’s bracket and won four elimination games to book its spot in the final, scored in the fifth when sophomore Stephen Alemais’ single to left field drove in Joe Morel.
However, All Hallows couldn’t capitalize on its chances, putting the leadoff runner on in five of the seven innings, but stranding seven.
Xaverian senior right-hander Anthony Pastrana was solid in 4-2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits, striking out nine with two walks to earn the win. It seemed whenever the Gaels would get a runner on, Pastrana would bear down and get a key strikeout.
“I felt very grateful that the coaches have a lot of confidence in me to pitch today,” Pastrana said. “I thank God for giving me the strength to pitch my heart out today and I left it all on the field.”
The Clippers tacked on three more runs in the fifth to make the result a foregone conclusion. Blaise Scerbo, who came on in relief and pitched 2-1/3 scoreless innings, got Phoenix Deshcamps to ground out to short to end the game and spark a wild celebration around the pitchers mound for the Clippers, who proved beyond a shadow of a doubt their dominance of the CHSAA this season.
“I agree with that wholeheartedly,” All Hallows coach Ed Gutierrez said. “They’re the best team in this league.”