Soto powers Xaverian to CHSAA crown

The middle of his week didn't go to plan, but Xaverian's Elvin Soto didn't need to think about the past.

The 2011 MLB draft had come and gone, without his name being called, a stinging moment in his young career. But as he stood on the field at Kaiser Stadium at St. John's on Friday night after guiding Xaverian to a 7-1 win over All Hallows in the CHSAA Varsity "AA" City Championship, Soto only focused on the present.

"I thank God my senior season ended the way it did," Soto said.

Soto helped soothe his pain as he drove in two runs and led Xaverian to the CHSAA title. The top-seeded Clippers (21-2) won their first title since 2008 and seventh in program history with the win against fourth-seeded All Hallows (17-9).

"I could've just crumpled up and been upset at the world but I came out here and gave it my all and got myself a championship trophy," Soto said. "Now it's just fitting my rings."

Once considered to be the elite prospect in New York City, there had been talk of Soto going in the middle rounds of the draft, but he instead watched 50 rounds pass without his name being called. He heard that signability had been an issue, as he has a full scholarship to Pittsburgh.

With the help of his parents, he used the bad news as a way to motivate him and focus on a future title. His razor-sharp focus paid dividends with a 2-for-2 night at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored.

After an error and a stolen base put Kevin Martir on second with two outs, Soto singled off All Hallows ace James Norwood to give Xaverian a 1-0 lead in the first. His pinch-runner came around to score on an RBI single by Thomas Midolo that gave Xaverian a 2-0 lead after one.

In the third, Soto hit a fly ball to center that All Hallows center fielder Joe Morel lost in the lights, resulting in an RBI triple. His pinch-runner, Julian Lanfranco, scored on a wild pitch that boosted Xaverian's edge to 4-0. Xaverian tacked on three runs in the fifth.

"It doesn't matter if his name didn't get called, I have a lot of confidence in him and I know he's going to have a good baseball career after here," Xaverian winning pitcher Anthony Pastrana said. "He's going to a great school, Pittsburgh and I wish him a lot of luck."

As Soto and the Xaverian lineup pummeled All Hallows, Pastrana handled the Gaels with ease, striking out nine over 4 2/3 innings, giving up just one run. He had good command of both his fastball and his curveball and felt confident throwing both pitches.

All Hallows finally cracked him for a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Stephen Alemais to slice the lead to 4-1, but reliever Blaise Scerbo retired Norwood on a grounder to second with two men on and two out.

"Today the better team won," Xaverian coach Lou Piccola said. "We were the better team all year and I think today proved the quality of our program and quality of our team."

After he didn't get drafted, Soto vowed he would in the future. He plans to use Pittsburgh to hone and develop his skills and take care of business, as he said. He'll have some extra jewelry with him when he does.

"I go into college with a ring now and get to show it off to all the freshmen when I go in on Aug. 15," Soto said. "It's an amazing feeling."