Clippers Blaise past All Hallows
Xaverian ace Blaise Scerbo seems to do his best pitching at Kaiser Stadium.
That’s bad news for the rest of the CHSAA right now and for St. John’s in the future.
The Seton Hall-bound senior right-hander pitched a complete-game shutout Wednesday night, helping lead the Clippers to an 8-0 win over All Hallows in the opening game of the CHSAA Class AA championship tournament.
“That’s good, I didn’t even think about that,” he said of his comfort on the Kaiser Stadium mound. “Hopefully when I play here, I’ll have a nice hometown crowd, which will be nice.”
Scerbo scattered three hits, struck out eight and walked two in his first complete game of the season as top-seeded Xaverian advances to the winners bracket to take on No. 4 Fordham Prep Thursday at 6:30 p.m. back at St. John’s.
“It’s a big game, especially getting the No. 1 seed was big,” Scerbo said.
No. 8 All Hallows (11-9) faces fifth-seeded St. Joseph by the Sea at Fordham’s Coffey Field Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in an elimination game.
Last year, Scerbo was huge out of the bullpen, putting the finishing touches on a pair of playoff wins, including 2-1/3 innings of scoreless relief in the title game victory against All Hallows.
This time, the 6-foot-4 Scerbo has an increased role, the Clippers ace who was seldom used in the regular season after being brought alone slowly following preseason arm troubles.
But he’s healthy now and that was evident in a dominant performance against a drained All Hallows team that was playing its fifth game in three days and completed a 1-0 third round qualifying series win over St. Francis Prep just 90 minutes before facing Xaverian.
“He’s focused, he’s disciplined, he’s been doing his homework in terms of his running on the off days and his long toss,” Xaverian coach Lou Piccola said. “He understands where we are right now. This is it.”
As well as Scerbo was pitching, the Clippers were stymied by Gaels starter Jose Pacheco, who kept the Clippers off the scoreboard through four innings.
That changed in the fifth when Keith Moore manufactured a run nearly single-handedly. The speedy centerfielder led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and was bunted over to second by Andrew Schillaci.
Moore then stole third and broke the scoreless tie by scoring on a wild pitch. It proved to be a big spark as Xaverian (19-1) scored three more runs – two on a single to left by the red-hot Sal Taormina – to take a 4-0 lead into the sixth inning.
“He’s got great speed,” Piccola said. “You utilize your abilities, you utilize what you do best.”
The Clippers tacked on four more runs in the sixth inning, the highlight being a solo home run down the left-field line by Moore
“He threw me a hanging curveball,” Moore said. “I just sat back and it took off. It was my first home run of the year. It felt really good hitting it here.”
Moore’s solo shot capped a great start of postseason for the defending CHSAA Class AA champions. A year ago, the Clippers also won the opening game of the double-elimination tournament in a rout, beating St. Francis Prep, 8-0.
“Our kids are focused,” Piccola said. “They’re focused on the mission.”
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