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Stealing the win: Aggressive Xaverian swipes bases, victory from Knights

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Talk about a slippery team.

Stolen bases in a rainy game helped Xaverian seal a 3–1 win over visiting Holy Cross in Brooklyn-Queens Catholic school baseball on May 4. Playing to the team’s strengths — particularly base-running — was crucial in poor weather and with Knights ace Patrick Morrissey on the mound, one player said.

“Off a good pitcher like that we aren’t going to get many hits,” Clippers center fielder Danny Ryan said. “The field is muddy, it’s windy, it’s bad. It was a good job that we did that today.”

The club got just four hits and seven base runners in five innings against the hard-throwing right-hander, who had already beat the team once this season.

But Phoenix Hernandez got Xaverian on the board first, singling to right and stealing second and third before coming home on a Ryan sac fly to center.

The first-place Clippers (11–3) added two insurance runs in the fifth against Morrissey. Joe Gallo, who walked, stole second and third before coming home on an errant throw. Chris Monti was hit by a pitch, stole second, and came home on a single by Joseph Scaramuzzino to make it 3–0.

The win was all about forcing blunders out of Holy Cross, Xaverian’s coach said.

“I figured: Try to put the pressure on them a little bit more,” said skipper Frank Del George. “Let’s see if we can force and error.”

Xaverian starter Christian Allegretti worked his way in and out of trouble for just under three innings, stranding three base runners. He was listed with two outs in the third — with runners on second and third — when his control started to falter.

Sophomore Shamus Connelly, in his first relief appearance of the season, came on to strike out Matt Morgan and end the threat. He got his cutting fastball and curve working and was able to toss just over three innings of scoreless relief. Connelly, who has impressed Del George with his poise, allowed just one hit, struck out four, and was aided by sparkling defensive play from third baseman Pedro Fortoso.

“I was confident coming in,” Connelly said. “I had three nice bullpens throwing strikes.”

Holy Cross (7–6) got the tying run on first and the go-ahead run to plate against Alex Passarella with two outs in the top of the seventh, but it could not bring the boys home.

Holy Cross’s lone run came when refs called a catcher’s interference, forcing in pinch runner Charlie Peponaki from third. Passaralla got Knight star Shawn Harrison to pop out on the first pitch to end the game.

Del George was happy with his team’ ability to gut out a tough win, but there would have been more base-stealing had players seen his overtures.

“Last year we stole 100 bases,” Del George said. “I was sending them, but they weren’t seeing it.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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