The showdown for the CHSAA Bronx/Manhattan ‘A’ division title never materialized. A loss to Cardinal Hayes combined with Xavier’s win against rival Regis meant the best St. Raymond’s could do was finish second.
The Ravens were also without star Hans Arias, who received seven stitches around his knee, and sophomore Manny Rivera, who was benched for arriving late. But they did have Ricky Eusebio, who continued his dominance of Xavier Thursday afternoon in a 5-2 victory at Ravens Field in the Bronx.
“Today, we played our (butts) off,” Eusebio said. “Today, our defense was looking good. … We did what we had to do.”
Pitching on three days rest, Eusebio allowed two unearned runs on six hits, striking out three with one walk in a complete-game win. The junior, who threw 108 pitches, improved to 6-0 on the season and helped clinch second place for St. Raymond’s.
The two teams took the field with one out in the top of the first inning because of an upheld protest from earlier this month. Tommy McNoble was called out because he missed first base on a ground-rule double to lead off the game.
Originally, the umpires ruled that St. Raymond’s (12-6 CHSAA Bronx/Manhattan ‘A’) attempted appeal was invalid because it wasn’t executed correctly. When Ravens coach Ron Patnosh told Ricky Eusebio to appeal again, the pitcher was called for a balk and McNoble moved to third, eventually scoring on a groundout. It was the lone run of the game.
Although that run was erased, Xavier (13-5 CHSAA Bronx/Manhattan ‘A’) jumped in front, 2-0 in the first inning, capitalizing on a pair of errors. But the Ravens bounced right back, scoring three runs in the second inning, highlighted by designated hitter Jon Crucey’s two-run double to center.
Crucey also drove in an insurance run in the third inning with an RBI single to right.
“I wasn’t thinking as much,” Crucey said. “I think that helped me out a lot.”
Eusebio got out of a jam in the fourth as he induced an inning-ending groundout after Xavier strung together three consecutive one-out singles and catcher Joe Tellez threw out Nick DiLeo on an attempted steal of second.
“Once again my kid came through on the mound,” Patnosh said. “We’ve been counting on him all year. It’s no surprise.”
Xavier, meanwhile, which won the division on strong starting pitching, stellar defense and clutch hitting, had four errors and Justin Pupa, who usually has excellent control, walked three and hit two batters.
“This is the only team we haven’t beaten in our division,” McNoble said. “You want to come out and show what we got, but it seems the two times we played them we played flat and they beat us.”
Eusebio is happy with second because it means the Ravens avoid the outbracket round and have some valuable days off.
“Oh, that’s great,” Eusebio said. “Now I can relax, ice my arm up, get a massage and just relax for that first game of the playoffs to come and then go hard.”