By Doug Bonjour
Its day appeared to be over on a routine ground ball to second base, but a mistake kept its hopes alive. One Xavier fielder dropped to the outfield grass in disbelief while another knelt to the infield dirt in frustration. Fairfield Prep was gift-wrapped another opportunity.
Only a half-inning later, though, Prep handed one right back. This one it didn't recover from, either.
A wild pitch was enough to send the top-seeded Jesuits to a heartbreaking 3-2, 12-inning defeat against Xavier Thursday afternoon in the SCC baseball semifinals at Yale Field in New Haven.
The teams combined for five errors -- two by Prep -- in a marathon three-hour, 13-minute game, but it was the ineffectiveness at the plate that bothered Prep coach Rudy Mauritz most.
"I didn't like what we did at the plate today," Mauritz said after the Jesuits were held to seven hits. "We hung in there, we put the ball in play in spots, we were able to get some runs back in a couple of spots. But, all in all, we need to do a better job at the plate."
Fourth-seeded Xavier (17-5) advanced to face seventh-seeded Amity (14-8), a 6-1 winner over Law in Thursday's nightcap, for the SCC championship. The finalists will meet Saturday at noon at Yale Field.
Prep wasted a stellar outing from right-hander Grant Stone, who allowed only one run on four hits in 7-plus innings. Stone departed after striking out three and walking two batters on 95 pitches.
"He started guys off with strike one, he was around the plate, he pitched to contact," Mauritz said. "He did a lot of good things today."
The Jesuits trailed 2-1 after an 11th-inning single by Xavier's C.J. Caprio, but Kevin Stone started a rally by getting hit by a pitch. He stole second and was sacrificed to third. Jake Berry hit a roller to second that appeared to end it, but Andre Marchessault's throw pulled the first baseman off the bag.
The Jesuits scored a run in the fifth on a wild pitch but didn't do much else against Xavier starter Nick Rascati and reliever Jon Signore. Rascati, the junior southpaw, allowed five hits and walked three in 4-plus innings.
"I was surprised it was as low-scoring as it was," Xavier coach Rich Magner said. "We've been hitting the ball pretty good, they've been hitting the ball pretty good. But, I'll tell you, I think their guys pitched well, I think my guys pitched well."
SCC baseball semifinals
Xavier 3, Fairfield Prep 2 (12)
XAVIER 010 000 000 011 --3 8 3
FAIRFIELD PREP 000 010 000 010--2 7 2
Records: Xavier 17-5; Fairfield Prep 18-4. Batteries: X -- Nick Rascati, Jon Signore (5), Dan Lawlor (11, W) and Chris Cardi. FP -- Grant Stone, John Carroll (8, L) and Jake Berry. Highlights: X -- C.J. Caprio went 2-for-5 with an RBI single; Laurence Hill went 2-for-6 with two stolen bases and two runs scored; Pat Downey singled and scored one run. FP -- Dean Lockery singled, walked and scored one run; Brett Stevenson went 2-for-5.