"He was one of the 'if,' players," Kent said.But after a solid relief outing against Archbishop Molloy and a gutsy six innings in his first varsity start Monday in a 4-1 victory against Monsignor McClancy, the audition is over now for the sophomore southpaw. He's now proven to Kent that he's a big part of the Prep pitching staff."I showed him that even late in the game I had stamina, I kept focused and threw strikes," Burnette said. "I think Brother knows what I've got. He can use me whenever he wants - to start, relief, anything."Burnette wasn't part of last year's championship team that featured standout hurler Danny Forman, who is now at Manhattan College. Burnette knew there would be a chance for some big innings if he could convince Kent, who had just two proven pitchers back from last year.Against McClancy, Burnette mixed up a fastball, curveball and changeup and worked in and out of trouble throughout his 6 1/3 innings. He gave up a solo home run in the second to Justin Farnum and three times the Crusaders put the tying run on third. But each time Burnette bore down and got of the jam."He had a lot of guts," Kent said. "They had him on the ropes three or four times. I think he got better as the game went on."Billy Xouris also wasn't a big part of last year's championship team. But the junior was an offensive catalyst against McClancy. His leadoff single ignited a two-run first inning and he walked three times, scoring an insurance run in the seventh on Sebastian Grazziani's RBI single to right."It boosts everyone up," Xouris said of getting the leadoff hit. "Everyone gets confident and gets fired up."After a slow start, McClancy lefty James Roubal was solid, scattering six hits and striking out six in six innings. Roubal reached 97 pitches when he was replaced by Will Colomer, who struggled in relief."That's baseball. It you dissect it too much, you'll jump off a bridge," McClancy coach Nick Melito said. "We had our opportunities and we just didn't come through. I think this team will learn from it."Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at dbutler@Ti
©2008 Community News Group
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