Burke comes through for No. 3 Amity baseball in win over Xavier

MIDDLETOWN — With a runner on first and no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Amity coach Sal Coppola made a pitching change. 

He brought in his closer Mac Burke to replace his ace Martin Zhang, who had come out of the bullpen in the fifth inning.

As Burke and Zhang made the switch, the senior turned to his teammate.

“I got you, I’m about to pick you up right here,” Burke said.

Burke induced a double play and then got a fly out to close out the 2-1 win for No. 3 Amity over Xavier on Friday night at Palmer Field.

“It was a little nerve wracking out there, I got my defense behind me, and they turned a clutch double play,” Burke said. “It felt good, it felt very good.”

Admittedly every one on Amity wanted the hard-throwing righty to strike out the first batter he faced. Burke did, too.

“I was trying to blow it by him,” Burke said. “That didn’t seem to work out, but hey.”

A lot didn’t seem to work for Amity in this game.

In his first varsity start, Xavier sophomore Quintin Sotero kept Amity off balance and out of the hit column until late in the game.

Amity's Andrew Soldra tripled in sixth. Then for the second time in the game, Burke hit a hard ground ball with two outs. And for the second time in the game, Xavier threw the ball away at first base, this time allowing Soldra to score the go-ahead run. 

“It’s something we have been working on, hitting the ball with two strikes,” Coppola said. “Put the ball in play and make them make plays.”

Xavier took the lead in the second inning when Jon Hosey tripled, then scored on a fielder’s choice. 

“We knew we would be in dogfight tonight and that’s what it was,” Xavier coach Nick Cerreta.

PLAYER OF THE GAME 

Quintin Sotero, Xavier: The sophomore was dealing in his first varsity start. He had pitched in two other games out of the bullpen against Fairfield Prep and Sheehan. Sotero went seven innings, allowed just one hit and struck out seven batters.

QUOTABLE 

“Why not? Earn your stripes, see what you are made of. He is a gamer, he has that look in his eye, he wants the ball, he wants to be out there.” — Xavier Nick Cerreta on why he pitched Sotero in his first varsity start against No. 3 Amity. 

AMITY 2, XAVIER 1

Amity 000 101 0 — 2 1 2
Xavier 010 000 0 — 1 4 1

Batteries: A — Casey Sexton, Martin Zhang (5), Mac Burke (7) and Justin Zamkov. X — Quintin Sotero     and Brandon Gaer.
3B: A — Andrew Soldra. X — Jon Hosney.
Records: Amity 8-0, Xavier 5-2