By Laura Amato
The St. Francis bats couldn’t seem to wake up.
The Terriers struggled at the plate May 4, unable to connect on that one, big hit, as the squad dropped a tight 2-1 showdown to Xaverian in a BQCHSAA matchup.
“They’re a good team and we played good game,” Prep coach Brother Robert Kent said. “We’ve just got to get timely hitting. We didn’t get much hitting … and that’s really it.”
Prep got on the board early when Salvatore Ferro started a second-inning rally with a single into right field. The Terriers’ designated hitter crossed home on a Xaverian error – getting a jump toward home when Clippers’ catcher Luke McDonald overthrew a pickoff attempt at second base.
“I think we needed to try to steal bases some more because the catcher wasn’t locking the ball up right,” Ferro said. “The pitcher was wild in that inning, so we just had to keep taking bases.”
That was as much as St. Francis would get, however, as the Terriers couldn’t quite find an answer for Xaverian pitcher Nicholas DeSalvo. The LIU-bound senior racked up six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of work and Prep couldn’t find a rhythm at the plate.
“I don’t think we were aggressive enough,” Ferro said. “We need to start hitting and swinging at that first pitch strike because most of the time it’s a fastball.”
Prep did its best to stay in the game, sparked by Nicholas Perez and Garrett Crowley on the mound. The pair kept Xaverian on its heels early on – giving up just five hits in the first six innings of play.
“The first guy is a freshman who’s getting his baptism by fire,” Kraft said. “And the other guy, [Garrett], he’s going to be a good pitcher for us.”
The Terriers defense also did its job on the diamond, finishing the league matchup without committing an error. Michael Nacinovich led the way in right field, notching a handful of web gems to keep his squad in the game down the stretch.
“Their right fielder, I think, saved the game for them,” Clippers coach Frank Del George said. “He made some great plays out there, no doubt about it, and their pitching was excellent.”
Xaverian turned the tide of the game in the top of the seventh inning, scoring the game-winning run on Thomas Papadopoulus’ two-out double. Prep, however, couldn’t answer in the bottom of the frame, leaving the tying run stranded on first.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Terriers, but it’s been an up-and-down season for the entire league and, despite the loss, Prep is still confident in its playoff chances going forward.
If the squad can string together a couple of hits and keep throwing strikes, the Terriers are certain they can find a bit of late-season rhythm and shock a few other teams along the way.
“It’s a tough league,” Kraft said. “Anything can happen and they know that now. Nobody has repeated since 1974, so that’s an indication. Whoever gets hot in the playoffs. First get into the playoffs and then you’ve just got to get hot.”