Pictured: Xavier pitcher Jesse Frazer talks over his approach with catcher Brandon Gaer and assistant coach Tony Franco, left, during Wednesday’s game at Palmer Field.
By Paul Augeri
MIDDLETOWN – Right-hander Jesse Frazer headed into his first start for Xavier in two years with an ambitious goal.
“I was ready to throw a complete game today,” he said.
Frazer certainly delivered.
The senior was outstanding for the Falcons in their first home game this season. Mixing a fastball, slider and curve with equal effect, he allowed just six runners and an unearned run, scattered three hits, walked two and struck out eight in a 5-1 SCC Housatonic Division win over West Haven at Palmer Field.
The win was Xavier’s third straight to start the season. The Westies fell to 0-2.
“I felt strong,” he said, “as strong in the last inning as I was in the first. I knew I was going to go long today and that I didn’t have to worry about pitches (he threw 97).”
Xavier bashed the ball in its first two games, totaling 25 runs on 32 hits. On Wednesday, the Falcons pieced together single runs in the first, second, third, fifth and sixth innings and finished with eight hits. The support for Frazer was plenty good.
“I’m more proud of this win than I am the first two,” Xavier coach Nick Cerreta said. “We were sloppy in the field (against Sheehan and Guilford). Too many walks, early on the pitching wasn’t great. Today Jesse pitched a hell of a game. I’m so proud of him. And we got guys on and had some key base hits, and the defense made some great plays in the field.
“It’s great to be 3-0. The kids are playing hard, that’s the bottom line. And they’re so much fun to be around.”
Junior center fielder Drew Kron, who is committed to play at UConn, reached in all three trips to the appearances. He singled twice, scored two runs, drove in one and stole two bases.
Kron scored Xavier’s first run in methodical fashion – hit by pitch, steal of second, balk to third and crossing on Drew Errera’s groundout.
In the second, Dillon Luke led off with a double that reached the warning track in left-center and scored on Colin Loria’s single up the middle. Xavier padded its lead to 3-0 an inning later. Kron led off with a hit through the left side, took second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on Errera’s single to short.
In the meantime, Frazer was cruising. He allowed a one-out double to Gianni Gambardella in the fourth – the first Westie batter to reach since the first inning — but got the next two batters on a foul pop-up and a liner to left.
Frazer found some trouble in the fifth when he issued a one-out walk to Tyler DeSanty and a two-out walk to Hunter Axelrod. Before West Haven’s Dan Izzo could dig in, Falcons pitching coach Tony Franco paid Frazer a visit.
“He wanted to know how I wanted to approach that batter,” Frazer said. “I was having a little bit of an issue on the mound at that point. He came out and gave me a second to relax. He asked me what I wanted to do and I told him what I wanted to do – ‘It’s the (leadoff) batter, but he hasn’t done anything all day. I want to attack him hard and heavy with the fastball and come back with a slider.’ And that’s what we did.”
Izzo grounded into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
Xavier gave Frazer a four-run lead in its half of the fifth. Mitch Bludnicki led off with a double to right, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Kron’s single to center.
West Haven’s Tyler Jones singled to lead off the sixth before Frazer got two quick outs. He appeared to be out of the inning when Isiah Wyatt grounded to Luke Lappe at first, but his attempt to backhand the ball failed and Jones scored from second.
“We were one play away from another zero, but it happens,” Frazer, with Lappe at his side after the game, said with a straight face.
After Xavier scored in its half of the sixth for a four-run advantage – JP Hosney scored from third on a successful steal of second by Jack Swierczynski – Frazer got two strikeouts and a liner to second to nail down the win.
“Coming into the sixth and seventh, things got a little bit tougher,” he said, adding, “we have the bats to back it up and we have the defense. You’ve just got to keep pitching and throw strikes and know your team is going to make the plays behind you.”
While Xavier has shown early that it can hit and score, Cerreta continues to emphasize pitching and defense.
“You’re going to win a lot of games when you can pitch and play defense,” he said. “You’re not going to score 10 runs a game in the SCC. But when you pitch and play defense, good things are going to happen. We had actually scrimmaged West Haven last week and we won handily, but it was a scrimmage, and I told ‘em, ‘Today is not going to be like it was last week. And they responded. They were in this game for seven innings. It was a fun game.”
WH 000 001 0—1 3 X
XHS 111 011 X—5 8 1
Batteries: WH—Dylan Supan, Dan Izzo (6) and Anthony Ruben. X–Jesse Frazer and Brandon Gaer. WP: Frazer; LP: Supan. 2B: WH–Gianni Gambardella ; X–Fraser, Mitch Bludnicki. Records: WH 0-2; X 3-0.