Xaverian found its offense at the perfect time.
The Clippers cruised to a 9–3 victory over Fordham Prep on June 7 at St. John’s University in an elimination game in the Catholic High School Athletic Association Class AA baseball playoffs. Xaverian broke the game open in the final two innings, scoring seven runs and sending 16 batters to the plate.
“It was a good thing that happened today, we have some momentum,” outfielder Daniel Ryan said. “Our bats kind of came alive because, I think, our dugout came alive today.”
The win gave Xaverian hope that it can continue another championship run. The Clippers won seven straight in 2014 to take home a city title, but for now they’re more focused on the immediate.
“We’re trying to take it one game at a time — obviously — because our backs are against the wall, we’re trying to leave it all out on the field,” Ryan said.
Xaverian got the scoring going with a pair of runs in the second and third innings. That lead wouldn’t last for long. Fordham Prep rallied against Xaverian starter Shamus Connolly in the fourth, as the Rams knocked in a pair of runs to tie the game — and knocked out Connolly in the process.
The Clippers bullpen took over from there. Nick Desalvo came in with runners on the corners and two outs in the fourth and was able to hold the Rams to just two runs in the inning.
“Our bullpen — up to now, knock on wood — has really been good,” Xaverian coach Frank DelGeorge said. “That’s why I’ve been going to the bullpen right away. If you notice, in the fourth inning, we pulled out Shamus.”
One inning later, in the bottom of the fifth, the Xaverian bats, which had been silent almost all postseason, finally came to life.
The Clippers loaded the bases after an error and a pair of hit-by-pitches, and once again it was Ryan who came through with a big hit. The senior batted in a runner and broke a 2–2 tie to give Xaverian the lead. From there, the line only kept moving.
First baseman Xavier Vargas followed with a two-run double of his own, and Luke McDonald singled in Ryan to complete the four-run inning.
“When we get our leadoff hitter on … and when we get men in scoring position with less than two outs, we’re usually pretty good at converting those,” Ryan said. “That shows a lot of fortitude — all coaches preach that every year,” DelGeorge said. “You know, you can’t give up, you’ve got to fight back.”
Fordham Prep managed to get one back in the sixth to cut the lead to 6–3, but Xaverian responded with three more runs in the bottom of the inning.
And the Ryan-Vargas duo once again came up with clutch hits for the Clippers. Ryan singled in another run with a two-out base hit, and Vargas connected on a two-run double to plate the final score.
The win keeps the Clippers alive in the double-elimination tournament, but the team still has work to do if it plans on recreating the magic of 2014.
“You can’t be looking ahead, even though the coaches look ahead to see who we’re going to play, but it’s really one game at a time,” DelGeorge said.