By Joseph Staszewski
Monsignor McClancy offered Xaverian numerous chances to get back into their contest, with walks and fielder errors, but it took seven innings for the Clippers to finally cash in.
Xaverian scored all four of its runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to hand the Crusaders a gut-wrenching 4-3 defeat in both teams’ CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens baseball opener in Bay Ridge April 7.
The Clippers loaded the bases with two outs against reliever Ryan Neuwiler, thanks to two walks and a bloop infield single by Domenic Raphael. An error on a routine ground ball resulted in a score from Joseph Scaramuzzino and brought cleanup hitter Xavier Vargas to the plate. The first baseman lined a fastball down the middle for a two-run single to right to tie the score at 3-3.
Pinch runner Ralph Flick stole third and the catcher’s throw sailed into left field, allowing the winning run to score.
“We had mistakes made in the field,” ace Charlie Neuwiler said. “Xaverian capitalized on the mistakes, tied the game up and eventually got the winning run off that.”
Charlie Neuweiler kept Xaverian at back for 5-2/3 innings. The Long Island University commit allowed just one hit, struck out six and walked four.
“That kid pitched a hell of a game out there,” Clippers coach Frank Del George said. “He deserved a better outcome.”
Xaverian made him work with long at-bats and deep counts. Neuweiler was taken out with his pitch count nearing 100.
“A couple of batters had me throwing some extra pitches I didn’t want to throw,” he said.
McClancy itself was being one-hit through four innings by Xaverian ace Alex Passarella, before finally breaking through for three runs in the fifth.
Justin Mateo singled on a mistake off-speed pitch to put two on with one out. The Crusaders, who reached the Intersectional semifinals last season, eventually got an RBI single from pinch hitter Daniel Rafferty and a two-run single from Ronald Clinton to take a 3-0 lead.
The Crusaders failed to add a tack-on run when a double play cleared first and second bases with one out. That opened the door for the Xaverian comeback and an early loss that could have big ramifications. McClancy and the Clippers are expected to be in contention for a division title.
“It’s the first game of the season, but it is always good to come out with a winning record in the next game and the game after that,” Neuweiler said. “We will definitely learn from our mistakes from this game and do better next game.”