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Clippers sow top seed for championship tournament

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Thanks to a brilliant pitching performance by Anthony Pastrana, who allowed three hits in the first complete-game of his career, Xaverian wrapped up the top seed for the upcoming CHSAA Class AA championship tournament with a 4-0 victory against Monsignor Farrell last Saturday at the College of Staten Island.

The Clippers have high expectation and a bulls-eye on their chests every time they step on the field. But according to Pastrana and centerfielder Gabe Hernandez, the pressure is not on them.

“It feels very, very good,” Hernandez said. “The pressure is on everyone else.”

“It feels great,” Pastrana added. “It takes a lot of pressure off of us.”

Pastrana said he didn’t expect to go the distance Saturday. After all, Xaverian coach Lou Piccola has arguably the deepest pitching staff in the CHSAA and he’s used every one of his arms. So, according to script, he was set to pull Pastrana in the fifth.

“We don’t normally do this, but his pitch count was down and he was throwing nice,” Piccola said. “My thing is he wasn’t walking anybody, wasn’t struggling with counts. He was getting ahead of the batters.”

The senior right-hander begged to finish what he started and his coach begrudgingly agreed. Monsignor Farrell had offered very little resistance and Pastrana, who used a simple formula of a lively fastball and a curveball, still looked fresh. He had eight strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter.

“I told coach I want the ball and he kept saying no and he was going to give it to my brother [Steven],” Pastrana said. “I told him I felt great and he let me go out there.”

Pastrana gave up a one-out single by Mike DePaola in the first inning, a two-out double in the third by Mike Viegas and a leadoff single by Jordan Stark in the seventh. The Lions never had a base runner reach third base.

“He was great,” Farrell coach Bob Mulligan said. “He has an above average fastball at this level, an above average breaking ball and he was throwing both for strikes. He overmatched some of our kids. He pitched a great game.”

The Clippers, meanwhile, had nine hits and knocked Lions starter Connor Meehan out of the game in the fourth inning. Hernandez provided all the offense Xaverian (17-2) needed with a two-run single in the second inning. Bob McKenna, who was the offensive catalyst in an 8-5 win against Iona Prep Friday, drove in two with a double to left in the fourth.

“I had to put the ball in play, someway, somehow,” Hernandez said of his bases-loaded single. “I had to widen my stance. The kid threw me a curveball and I got a hit.”

Monsignor Farrell (15-2), which won its first 14 league games, but dropped two of its last three, is the No. 2 seed in the double-elimination tournament. The Lions defeated All Hallows, 4-1, in last Friday’s seeding-round game, a victory Mulligan said was more important than Saturday’s result.

“If you would have told me before the season that we’d be going into the intersectionals as a No. 2 seed I would have said I’d be very pleased about that,” Mulligan said. “We’re in good shape.”

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