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The magical ride for Prep continues

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First, the sophomore slugger read a book about the mental aspect of baseball, studied some key phrases and took batting practice in his basement before school Tuesday."I did whatever I could to get out of the slump," said Karmas, who was hitless in Prep's last four games.And with a renewed confidence, Karmas strode to the plate at The Ballpark at St. John's and broke a deadlock with a mammoth two-run home run over the left field fence. His fifth inning blast gave the Terriers a lead it would not relinquish en route to a 7-4 upset win over Xaverian in the CHSAA Intersectional semifinals Tuesday.The game was resumed from Monday afternoon, when inclement forced the suspension of play with the game tied at 2 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Karmas struck out and flew out to left in his first two at-bats."I wasn't thinking," Karmas said. "I was relaxed and it just happened."St. Francis Prep's stunning run through the playoffs continues into the championship round where the Terriers were slated to face Moore Catholic Wednesday afternoon at Keyspan Park on Coney Island. Another win by these Cinderella Terriers in the double elimination playoffs would set up a final game Thursday at Keyspan.St. Francis Prep lost its first game of the double elimination round but then reeled off four consecutive upset wins, beating Iona Prep, Monsignor Farrell, Stepinac and Xaverian. The Terriers, winners of 21 of their last 25, will be playing for their first city championship since 1995.Before breaking out of his offensive slump in a big way, Karmas shined defensively. The game resumed with Xaverian, which scored a pair of fourth inning runs Monday, having a runner at first with one strike on Dave Odom.Richie Armento, who threw three innings of scoreless relief Friday, relieved starter Rob Casal and faced Xaverian's daunting lineup.Odom walked to put runners at first and second with no out but Karmas raced down the line from first to field Stewart Park's attempted sacrifice bunt and fired to third to get the force. Xaverian (21-3) then took themselves out of the inning when it was ruled Odom left second early attempting to tag up on James Rodriguez's fly out to right field."It's not about being cocky about yourself, but not being afraid of anyone," Armento said. "I feel like I'm just as good as them. They're good hitters and I'm a good pitcher. I'm not afraid of them, I'm not afraid to throw my fastball. That's now I pitch, no matter what."Rob Paccione led off the fifth with a single through the left side of the infield and on the second pitch he faced - an 0-1 curveball served up by Clippers closer Rob Conway - Karmas' slump was officially history.And not long after, Xaverian, which lost its only regular season game to Prep, was history too.St. Francis Prep (23-9) tacked on a run in the sixth when Justin Gueli cruised home on a balk and then Gueli drove home Alex Pinto and Michael Garaufis with a single to right in the top of the seventh to take a commanding 7-2 lead."We wanted to win a championship and we knew we couldn't do it without him pitching tomorrow," Xaverian coach Dennis Canale said of ace Pedro Beato, who was drafted by the Mets in the 17th round of the MLB First Year Player Draft. "It was Pedro tomorrow and (Ricky) Espinosa the next game. We rolled the dice and one and one came up - snake eyes."Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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