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Aces Wild: Xaverian tops Molloy for B/Q crown

Matt Rizzotti was pumped for last Thursday’s Brooklyn/Queens division title showdown with rival Xaverian, maybe too pumped. The Manhattan-bound Molloy ace exchanged some friendly trash talking with Clippers star Keith Christensen online the night before meeting on Stanner Field.

But the Stanners’ senior hurler struggled to back up his words and, for that matter, so did Christensen. What should have been a pitchers’ duel proved to be a game of missed opportunities for Molloy in a 6-2 loss.

Xaverian (15-2) clinches the Brooklyn/Queens regular season title and the lone division bye into the second round of the CHSAA playoffs, which started Monday. The Clippers also took the season series from Molloy, 2-1.

“We both just played it up so much that we just took ourselves out of the game,” Rizzotti said. “We both couldn’t really throw strikes.”

After falling behind, 2-0, in the first inning, Molloy (14-3) loaded the bases with no outs in the first and third innings and only came away with one run. Despite walking seven, Christensen allowed just one hit through four innings.

“It’s this field that throws me off mentally,” said the Arizona State-bound hurler. “I get into worrying about the dimensions too much. I just didn’t have my best stuff out there for some reason.”

Rizzotti, who outdueled Christensen in the first of three meetings between the powerhouses, gave up six earned runs on 10 hits with seven strikeouts and five walks.

“For the playoffs, that’s good that they got that out of their system,” Molloy coach Jack Curran said of the starting pitchers’ overexuberance. “All the playoff games are going to be tense games so they need to be able to relax when they’re pitching.”

With his team leading 4-2, Curtis Lovelle came in for Christensen and was brilliant, throwing three innings of hitless relief. His only trouble came in the sixth inning when he hit Andrew Kapela and walked Tom Maser with one out.

But almost strictly relying on his fastball, he struck out Anthony Carnacchio and got Matt Murdoch to ground back to the mound to end the inning.

Lovelle will be key for Xaverian’s post-season aspirations without pitchers Pedro Beato, Mike Garrison and Alex Urgelis. Beato had Tommy John surgery, Garrison will get the same procedure and Urgelis had his left (non-pitching) arm broken when he was attacked in a robbery attempt in Brooklyn May 19.

“Curtis was not a pitcher when he came to this team last year but we saw something in him,” said Xaverian coach Dennis Canale. “He’s progressing to the point where he’ll probably be a big-time guy in college.”

Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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