As American Pharaoh ended the 37-year Triple Crown drought over the weekend, the wait for a repeat Catholic baseball champion hit 38.
Second-seeded Xaverian saw its bid for consecutive crowns ended by the No. 8 Monsignor Farrell by 5–0 in a loser’s bracket game in the Catholic championship tournament on June 7 at St. Joseph by the Sea.
“It was definitely in our minds the whole playoffs,” said Seton Hall-bound third baseman Anthony Scotti. “It’s tough. It’s just tough to do.”
The Clippers lost its tournament opener to Archbishop Molloy, rallied to beat Fordham Prep in eight innings, but again saw its offense struggle against the Lions. Xaverian managed just three hits against Farrell starter Nick Lepre, who went the distance. He located his fastball well to strand six runners and leave the bases loaded twice in the bottom of the third.
“We had a few opportunities there, bases loaded in a 2–0 game, one out,” Clippers coach Frank Del George said. “It’s unbelievable. We had the right guys up, top of the order. It was not just this game.”
On the other side, Farrell collected four-straight hits with two away in the top of the third to take a 2–0 lead again. Farrell starter Alex Passarella, Hayden Gumb, and Gary Otten each drove in runs. The junior pitched well enough to win on most days, allowing three runs on five hits over six innings.
“When he gets locked in, he is pretty good,” Del George said.
The Clippers (18–5) had a chance to answer in the bottom of the third, when Scotti got an infield single to start the frame. Xavier Vargas reached on an error and Chris Iacono walked to load the bases. Leadoff hitter Phoenix Hernandez then grounded into a five-five-two double play. Xaverian loaded the bases again after a walk to Joe Vitacco, but Nick Meola grounded out to end the frame.
The Clippers threatened again in the fifth, but could not scratch a run across the plate. Iacono walked with one out and Hernandez delivered a hit-and-run. But pinch runner Andrew Watters was thrown out trying to go to third on the hit by Farrell right fielder Tom Medina. Vitacco singled, but Meola flied out to end the threat.
“We couldn’t really get anything going,” Scotti said. “We just had no momentum throughout the game. That’s when we play our best. When we have momentum.”
Farrell added a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to increase its lead to 5–0 to end any hope of comeback and a Xaverian repeat. The Clippers won seven elimination games to win the crown a year ago. It would have needed six to get down this year. Del George, seeing young teams remaining in the tournament, said it’s sometimes hard to get the same hunger from veteran group coming off a title. No team has repeated since Archbishop Molloy in 1976–77.
“I can feel it with the team that it’s not the same intensity as we had last year” the coach said.
Scotti said the loss would sting for a while, but the team’s 15 seniors will ultimately remember the great careers they had in Bay Ridge.
“Tomorrow we are going to want to win this championship,” Scotti said. “A couple weeks from now I think it will hit us.”