Frank Kaplan and Andrew Schillaci don’t have Division I scholarships or the varsity pedigree of some of their teammates who helped lead Xaverian to its sixth CHSAA Class AA title a year ago.
But the Monroe Tournament has allowed both a chance to prove their importance to Clippers coach Lou Piccola and his staff. And both were integral in helping lead Xaverian to the tournament’s semifinals following a 5-4 win against Iona Prep in the quarterfinals Wednesday morning at Monroe in The Bronx.
“Every game we’ve played has been a one-run game,” Piccola said. “One pitch, one play, one big hit…it changes the whole game.”
Schillaci contributed early with the hit, a two-run, opposite-field home run in the first and Kaplan, one of five senior starters, came through late with the pitch, earning the save in 1-1/3 innings of relief.
The Clippers not only booked a berth in the semifinals where they will face John Adams Thursday morning at Monroe, but also earned some early bragging rights against an Iona Prep squad considered by many as a favorite to win the CHSAA title this year.
“This was more like a league playoff-type game because that’s when we would see them,” Kaplan said. “It had a little extra for us to want to win to show that we can beat them.”
Schillaci, who belted a huge triple against Grand Street during pool play, continued to swing a hot stick, poking a Joe Finnegan pitch over the 285-foot fence in right in Xaverian’s three-run first inning.
“I wasn’t going for a home run,” Schillaci said. “I was just trying to hit line drives. He left it out over the middle and I just took it where it was pitched. I was fortunate enough it went over the fence, but I would have been happy with a double just to get that RBI in.”
Schillaci also singled in the fourth and walked in the sixth.
“He’s coming around,” Piccola said. “We’re patient and he works very hard. He’s a good hitter.”
Matt Brems and Pat DeCea each hit solo home runs Iona Prep, which pulled within 3-2 in the fourth. But Xaverian responded with two in the bottom of the stanza on Keith Moore’s two-run single to right.
Billy Martin’s double to right-center in the sixth scored Christian Berg to again cut the Gaels deficit to one run in the sixth, but that’s when Piccola pulled Rosa for Kaplan, who got Sam Garito to ground out to end the inning.
Brems worked out a one-one walk and Vinny DeMaria followed with an infield single in the seventh, but Kaplan, who was huge in relief against Grand Street in pool play, closed the door, striking out No. 3 hitter Matt Henry with a slider and jamming DeCea on a fielder’s choice.
“I threw him a two-seam inside on the hands,” Kaplan said. “It did the job.”
Xaverian advances to the semifinals to face John Adams, which upset Norman Thomas in the quarterfinals Wednesday at Lehman. The winner faces either Grand Street Campus or Tottenville in Friday’s final.
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