Xavier gets offensive in Mount rout
Run support to Nick DiLeo usually means a one-run lead courtesy of a couple of sacrifices and seeing-eye single.
So the Xavier senior ace was pleasantly surprised with the Knights spotted him a three-run lead before he ever threw a pitch Tuesday afternoon at Mount St. Michael.
“That’s nice, three runs in the first inning for us is pretty good,” DiLeo said. “We usually score little by little throughout the game.”
He wasn’t the only one surprised.
“I’m shocked we hit this well,” Xavier coach Rich Duffell said. “We normally don’t hit this well. We’re a small ball team.”
That small ball team put up a big number, banging out nine hits in a 12-0 five-inning victory.
It was more than enough run support for DiLeo, the St. John’s-bound lefty who pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one infield single and striking out two.
It was a vintage DiLeo performance, better than his first outing of the year in a 2-1 loss against Cardinal Spellman.
“He had his fastball today, he was very sharp,” Duffell said. “If that Nicky stays, we’re good.”
DiLeo kept it simple against the Mountaineers, laying off his off-speed stuff for a lively sinking fastball that resulted in five ground ball outs.
“I was getting my fastball over today, which is totally different from last game,” DiLeo said.
What DiLeo was more excited about, though, was his plate appearances. Red Storm coach Ed Blankmeyer recruited DiLeo to pitch so his days as a hitter are dwindling.
“I’m keeping all my hitting stats,” DiLeo said. “It will probably be the last time I hit until I play men’s softball when I’m 40. I’m having fun with it, I’m enjoying it because I don’t know how many more at-bats I’m going to get.”
DiLeo really enjoyed his two-run triple to left as part of Xavier’s eight-run outburst. It was started with Anthony Auletta’s run-scoring sacrifice fly to center and continued with Cody Mangano’s bases-clearing, three-run triple down the left-field line.
The Knights (1-1) were also aided by four Mount errors.
“He put the pitch in the same spot as the first one, I took the same swing and kept it fair by a little bit,” said Mangano, who laid down a sacrifice bunt in the second, reached on an error in the fifth and scored twice.
The right fielder bats ninth in the Xavier order, but not because he’s offensively challenged.
“The reason is he’s fast and he can hit,” Duffell said. “We try to put our speed clumped together.”
Duffell also likes that Mangano battles at the plate. In the loss to Cardinal Spellman, Duffell said Mangano twice had 10-pitch at-bats.
DiLeo likes that too, but that wasn’t always the case.
“He fights off so many pitches, I actually pitched against him years ago and he’s such a tough out,” he said. “It was so annoying. He’s a great person to have in that spot.”
Frankie Arigo closed the game out for Xavier, striking out two and didn’t allow a hit in two innings of stellar relief.
It was the perfect recipe for success for the Knights, who serenaded birthday-boy Duffell after the game.
Perhaps the only thing that didn’t go Duffell’s way was the shortened game.
“I’m really upset we had to mercy them because I wanted to get the other kids in,” Duffell said. “But hey, that’s it. We’ll take it.”
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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