By Joseph Staszewski
Monsignor McClancy is a win away from playing for a CHSAA baseball title.
The young Crusaders got another fine start from sophomore ace Charlie Neuweiler and saw its speed wreak havoc on the Archbishop Molloy defense during a 13-2 victory in the winner’s bracket of the Catholic championship tournament at St. John’s University on Friday. Sixth-seeded McClancy advances to face No. 4 Salesian 4 p.m. Sunday at Iona Prep.
“It’s just fun right now,” said senior third baseman Jorge Mercado.“Nobody expects us to be here. We are just riding a wave right now.”
Neuweiler had admittedly struggled at times, only allowed two runs on three hits and struck out nine in 6 1/3 innings of work. He relied heavily on his fastball and was able to relax a bit after his teammates gave him a 5-2 lead in the second inning. Neuwelier is 10-2 on the season and was called the horse by Mercado. The underclassman’s poise and competitiveness have impressed coach Nick Melito.
“He’s just a soph and he struggled through and gave up two runs in six and a third and he thinks he did bad,” the coach said. “That’s his mindset.”
His team gave Neuweiler plenty of run support as the offense was sparked by leadoff hitter Quentin Homes. The sophomore reached base three times, scored twice and drove in a pair of runs with a single in the fifth. Mercado went 2-for-2 with three RBI. His two-run single highlighted a four-run second innings against Molloy starter Jonathan Meditz.
“To have the run support you have from your team behind you and solid defense like that, it’s a weight lifted off your back when you are pitching,” Neuweiler said.
The Crusaders used bunts and steals to force Molloy into defensive mistakes. They scored four more times on the third to grab a 9-2 lead. Only one of those runs came home on a hit. Andrew Santora scored two and had an RBI triple in the sixth, Danny Ruiz drove in two runs and John Lluvera scored twice.
McClancy got to this point by sweeping a best of three series from St. Francis Prep before knocking off No. 3 seed Fordham Prep 4-2 behind Frank Albaricco in the opening round of the tournament. The players don’t plan on having this ride come to an end anytime soon.
“After four years I still can’t believe it,” Mercado said. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”