Late homers key Xaverian over Grand St.
Sometimes baseball is all about instinct. Luckily for Lou Piccola, his instincts were accurate as they come.
The Xaverian head coach picked the perfect lineup for the matchup against Grand Street and it paid off Monday morning with a 4-0 shutout against the home team in the second day of the Monroe Tournament.
"Today's lineup was all instinct," Piccola said. "We had some guys out there not hitting a lick. But you know something, one of those guys who wasn''t hitting, hit the ball pretty well, my leftfielder had two big hits. You have what you have. You can't do anything beyond working with and developing your lineup. Games like this this get us ready to play."
That aforementioned leftfielder, Andrew Schillaci, scored the games' first run for Xaverian at the bottom of the fourth inning when he hit an inside-the-park solo home run to center field.
"I haven't been doing too well the last few games, but the seniors really picked me up," Schillaci said. "I was up there trying to compete, trying to keep it simple with a nice base hit. I hit a line drive and it just kept going. I took a look at coach as I hit second and went to third and he kept waving me on so I took it home. It was a great experience."
One of the big storylines coming into the game was the matchup of Grand Street transfer Kevin Martir and his former team in the Clippers. Martir made a big play in bottom of the third with runners on third and second. After senior third baseman Eric Kalman hit a line drive to center field, Martir tagged Xaverian shortstop Gabriel Hernandez a split second before he slid home, keeping the Clippers off the board.
"Kevin was a big loss for our team, he was one of our best players and a very good friend of mine," said senior catcher Andres Ruiz. "Me and Zach [Candelaria] have a very big responsibility to lead this team with him not here."
By the bottom of the fifth, with one out and runners once again on third and second base, Ruiz stepped up in a big way by hitting the second long ball of the day, a three-run homer that made the score 4-0.
"It was a pretty good feeling, I was just trying to help my team win," Ruiz said. "I just wanted to get the ball in play and hit it hard. I thought it was going to be a normal single and at first I just put my head down trying to get to first. I calmed myself down because I was so anxious and I knew it was more than that."
"He hit the ball in the right spot and we got three runs in," Piccola added. "We were putting lineups together and we felt that Andres deserved to play behind the plate. He came through and he bent the ball pretty well today."
Piccola was impressed with his team's performance, particularly how they bounced back after their loss Curtis in Saturday's opening round.
"We got some timely hits and we were flawless in the field," Piccola said. "We played a playoff-type game against one of the top teams in the city. To come here in their place and have a shutout was an indication that you never know what you're going to get. Everything fell into place today."
But weary of putting too much importance into one performance, Piccola reiterated how this game and the tournament to a large extent were more so practice for the Clippers' league games.
"I don't look at any single game and say it's going to change our season, not at this time of year," Piccola said. "We're still trying to find our players. We can't get overexcited or overanxious about anything right now other than the fact that we played a great game here against one of the best out there."