Martin Tourney: No. 1 B-R 10, No. 8 Silver Lake 0

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
PLYMOUTH, Mass. -– Before Jack Connolly delivered a shutout for No. 1 Bridgewater-Raynham against No. 8 Silver Lake as the Trojans won 10-0 in the finals of the Brad Martin Tournament, the junior righty felt unease and anxiety about facing the Lakers.

“I was honestly a little bit nervous before the game,” said Connolly. “I was like ‘I have a weird feeling about this one.’ I knew our offense is very good and knew I needed to keep them off-balance and just throw strikes. I’ve watched a couple of their games and they like to do a lot of small ball. I know if you walk a kid against them, usually that runner scores. I really just wanted to focus on throwing strikes today.”

Connolly certainly threw a lot of strikes in the finals at Plymouth North High School, racking up 10 strikeouts while surrendering just one walk in the five-inning, mercy rule-shortened victory. He surrendered just three hits to improve to 4-0 on the mound this season.

“Jack certainly was the story for us first and foremost in this game,” said B-R coach John Kearney. “He just mixes things up so well. He was pitching into a stiff wind and still had some oomph on his fastball, and I think that really helped his off-speed stuff. That’s a good hitting team, and to shut them out is a tribute to Jack and how well he pitched today.”

Connolly calmed his own nerves by limiting the Lakers’ base runners and taking away their ability to play small ball, but even when Silver Lake finally registers its first hit in the fourth inning, his defense quickly erased the runner.

After Anthony Videtto singled into left, the following pitch squirted away from catcher Joe Freiday. Videtto took off for second and Freiday quickly sprung after the ball, scooped it up and one motion unloaded a strike to second base for an out that could only be recorded by a show of impressive arm strength.

“That was huge,” said a smirking Connolly, who is Freiday’s cousin. “I don’t know if Joey planned it –- to miss the ball and have it land right in front of him like that. His arm is unbelievable. Nobody steals on us. Finally, someone did, and he’ll never do it again.”

The only other time Connolly faced real trouble was in the top of the fifth when Dan Cole led off by getting hit by a pitch. Will Gallagher followed with a single.

Connolly worked a pop out to right, then a strike out. Tanner Bouchard singled into left to load the bases with two outs, but Connolly recorded his 10th strikeout to finish this one off.

“I just wasn’t feeling it, especially with the wind. My hat kept falling off,” laughed Connolly. “Really, my location just wasn’t there. I was overthrowing and thinking too much, but everybody has those innings.”

Added teammate Andrew Noviello: “That’s just the way he is. Even if he walks a couple guys, he’ll just come right back and get a couple guys out and just do his thing. That’s just Jack.”

Noviello notches four: Noviello seemed as unstoppable for the Trojans offense as Connolly was unhittable on the mound. He only registered one official at-bat, but scored four times to pace the B-R scoring. He went 1-for-1, with a triple, two walks and a hit-by-pitch in the win, stealing three bases and driving in a run for the Trojans.

“Noviello makes things happen,” added Kearney. “He was probably the key to our offense today as far as getting on base and his base running. He stole several bases and scored on a passed ball there that a lot of kids don’t score on. He kind of jumpstarts the offense.”

The rest of the Trojans (8-0) offense delivered a strong showing as well, led by two hits and three RBI from Joe Freiday, two hits and two RBI from Tyler Carey and a second straight game in which Conner Sullivan reach base in every plate appearance.

B-R only registered six hits in the win, but used an impressive approach at the plate that resulted in nine walks and five hit-by-pitch en route to the blowout win.

“You can’t overcome that,” said SL coach Ken Tocci. “B-R is probably the best team in the state, and when you give them extra base runners, and early on things were going their way anyway. When that happens, you’re in for a long day.”


Recap: No. 13 Malden Catholic 7, No. 11 SPM 4

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
MALDEN, Mass. -- For those that were quick to write Malden Catholic off because of its auspicious start to the season: Do you feel a bit foolish now?

After starting the year 3-4, the Lancers seemed to have turned things around after winning three straight games, including Thursday's 7-4 triumph over St. Peter-Marian at Maplewood Park.

"We are starting to figure some things out," said Lancers multi-talented first baseman Steve Passatempo. "People are starting to hit and our pitching is coming through and our fielding is doing great. We feel we have a chance to score in every inning. People are getting on base and it doesn't matter who is up at the plate because we are finding ways to get those runners in."

Passatempo, a senior who will do a post-graduate season at Salisbury School (Conn.) next year, certainly found his way against the Guardians. The senior finished 3-for-3 at the plate, including a home run and 3 RBI.

Starting pitching on both sides was shaky in this one. MC's Anthony DeSouza struggled from the outset. The sophomore, who started Wednesday's tilt against SPM before rain halted things in the second inning, ran into difficulty in the first inning after the Guardians (5-2) plated three runs against him. DeSouza opened the second by walking the first batter he faced before being pulled in favor of Nick Puleio.

The junior lefty came on and gave the Lancers a much-needed spark by tossing six solid innings, having allowed just one unearned run on only 3 hits while striking out 9.

"I just basically came in and threw how I usually do," Puleio said. "I wasn't thinking about the deficit we were in when I came in. To be honest, pressure doesn't really affect me. I was going with my fastball and curve ball today and didn't really go with my change-up.

"I just tried to throw strikes and it worked out for us. Once we went ahead I felt a lot more comfortable. My teammates were supporting me so I knew that I needed to help them out."

MC (6-4) erased the deficit rather quickly after scoring five times in the second inning against righthander Dan Bushe. With one out, Zack Coles walked and Ryan Covelle proceeded to loop a double to left. Jake Witkowski next grounded a sharp single to right field scoring both runners to make it 3-2.

Dan Marini then followed with a walk thus setting the stage for Passatempo, who ripped a triple into right to move the Lancers ahead by a run. With Pat Gallagher now on in relief of Bushe, the sophomore struck out Ian Steckel swinging. However, catcher Brandon O'Connor couldn't field the pitch cleanly and needed throw down to first to retire Steckel.

The senior's throw deflected off of Steckel's left shoulder. Alertly, first baseman Jack Riley was able to catch the ball before Steckel reached the bag for the out. But, in the meantime, Passatempo who was creeping down the line, managed to sprint home with the Lancers' fifth run before Riley could make a throw.

Gallagher, a sophomore, did a nice job on the mound for the Guardians. The righty went the final 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on just 2 hits. He fanned 8.

"For a young guy he had an unbelievable outing for us," SPM head coach Ed Riley said. "He just turned 16 and for him to go out there he really picked us up. It is certainly a positive for us."

After striking out the side in the fourth, Puleio ran into trouble in the Guardians' fifth. With one out, O'Connor, considered the team's spark plug, opened the frame by legging out an infield single. Jon Crimmin next singled up the middle with O'Connor taking third on the play. Riley was then plunked by a pitch loading the bases.

At this juncture, it would have been easy for Puleio to start coming unglued in his attempts to hold onto the lead. Yet Instead, he displayed tremendous character by bearing down and retiring the next two SPM batters to come away unscathed.

"We didn't have the focus in the early going," said Lancers head coach Pat Driscoll, whose troops lost to SPM 3-2 back on April 12. "The guys that needed to get the big hits for us did just that. They are starting to believe in themselves a little bit more.

"When you need to win games you have to come up with big hits and be able to hit with runners in scoring position. Today we did that. I thought Nick did a great job today. That was his first varsity win. I was real proud of the way he came in and basically shut the door on them."

Knowing full-well that a two-run advantage was anything but safe, MC would add to its total in the bottom of the fifth. Despite a strong, gusty wind that was blowing from left-to-right all afternoon, Passatempo, on the first pitch he saw from Gallagher, belted a rocket deep over the centerfield fence to make it 6-3.

MC added a solo run in the sixth after Witkowski (2-for-4) doubled and came around to score on second baseman Mike Pezzano's error of an Ethan Harris' grounder. The Guardians got one back in the seventh. With two out, Crimmin (3-for-4), singled and scored after Covelle failed to catch Nate Frederick's deep fly to center. But that would be as close as SPM would get.

"Against a team like them you need to minimize the runs," Riley said. "Our effort was there but I felt we lost some focus after going up 3-0. We kind of sat on that instead of keeping the foot on the pedal. With a line up like theirs you cannot sit back. They are well-coached and you know Pat is going to keep them motivated over there. They are a very good team."


Recap: No. 2 Newton North 7, Xaverian 1

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Newton North is off to a fast start this season -- at the plate, on the mound, against foes both in and out of conference. It continued Thursday morning at Xaverian.

Ben Porter led off the bottom of the first with a double over Trevor McQuade’s head in centerfield. John Little sacrifice bunted down the first baseline to move Porter over, and suddenly North had a runner less than 90 feet from scoring and only one out. Tommy Joyce grounded out to short, which scored Porter from third, and North had a lead it would not relinquish. The Tigers went on to defeat the Hawks, 7-1.

North put two more on the board in the fourth courtesy of the middle of its lineup. Alex Joyce walked to start the bottom of the inning, followed by a Kevin Alexy triple to right center. Curtis Beatrice broke his bat on a short flair to right, but the ball dropped in for a hit and allowed Alexy to cross home to give North a 3-0 lead.

“I told our hitters that although it was a close game for a while, I thought our approach was good,” said Newton North coach Joe Siciliano. “I thought every batter battled, and I thought that was the difference. We finally got to them. Of course, in baseball, sometimes things fall in and we were very fortunate that that happened.”

The North lineup was able to do most of its damage the second time around on the experienced Paul Regan. Before the bottom of the fourth, the team huddled in front of its dugout to discuss what it had picked up from Regan’s delivery and pitch selection.

Regan was relieved from the game after five innings. He gave up six runs on 10 hits, with three strikeouts and a walk.

“The kids are good like that, they take hitting seriously,” said Siciliano.

Tommy and Alex Joyce singled to open the bottom of the fifth, putting runners on first and second. Alexy singled for the third North hit in a row, which created a play at the plate with Tommy Joyce and the catcher. The umpire ruled Tommy got around the tag and was safe, while Alex tried to advance from second to third behind him. The catcher overthrew third, sending the ball down the left field line. Alex scored and Alexy was able to reach third on the play.

Curtis Beatrice singled to plate Alexy and give North the 6-1 lead with two innings to go.

Dylan Sbordone breezed through the first five innings on the mound for Newton North, giving up no hits and only one walk during that span. Seeing how he retired the Xaverian lineup with ease, it was easy to think two innings ahead and the realistic chance he had of throwing a no-hitter on such a blustery day.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,” he admitted after the game. “The no-hitter would have been nice, happens.”

Even when he got into potential trouble, his teammates bailed him out of it. Xaverian’s Andrew Elliot battled Sbordone for a nine-pitch at bat in the top of the fifth before eventually drawing a walk. He was able to get the next batter, Kevin Dolan, to hit a grounder to second. The North infield turned the 4-6-3 double play to get the runners off the base paths.

“Dylan has improved so much, you can’t say enough about him,” said Siciliano. “He’s pitching with purpose. Sometimes when pitchers throw balls, they don’t mean to. When he throws a ball, he means to throw a ball. It could be something like an outside fastball. He’s got command of two or three pitches, and he did a terrific job.”

He did not throw more than four pitches in an at-bat until the last batter of the fourth inning. He consistently kept the ball down and around the plate and was not afraid to pitch to contact. While this allowed Xaverian to put a number of balls in play, it also kept his velocity up and pitch count down heading into the later innings.

“I was just trying to stay around the plate, and if they hit it, just let the defense make the plays behind me,” he said. “I felt good going into the later innings because the first two or three innings everyone was swinging at basically one or two pitches they were thrown and the defense was making plays, so we were getting quick one-two-three innings.”

He finally gave up a hit in the sixth inning when McQuade hit a line drive into right-center for a double. The ball would have rolled further if Porter did not make a diving stop before it got past him. Noah Sorrento grounded out to first to get McQuade to third and AJ King singled to plate Xaverian’s only run of the game.

He pitched the full seven innings, giving up 1 run on two hits while striking out 6 and walking 2.

On the road (again): Thursday was supposed to be Newton North’s home opener, but it had to be moved because its new field, located behind the high school, was saturated from Wednesday’s rain. Therefore, Thursday’s game was moved to Xaverian High School’s turf field. The two teams kept the rules of play intact, with North serving as the home team and taking the field at the top of every inning.

Siciliano and his team hope to be playing games on its real home field in front of its home fans soon.


St. John’s of Shrewsbury junior two-way star Davon Jones received his first Division 1 offer today, from FCS upstart Coastal Carolina, the Pioneers coaching staff told this afternoon.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Jones was an ESPNBoston All-State selection last fall after recording 125 tackles, eight interceptions, eight tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles from the free safety position. It was his second straight season registering over 100 tackles, as the Pioneers reached the inaugural MIAA Division 2 State Championship. Jones was also the Pioneers’ second-leading receiver, catching 50 passes for 680 yards and seven touchdowns.

Boston College and UMass have also shown varying degrees of interest in Jones, who also stars at point guard for the Pioneers in basketball.

There is also a local connection at play in this offer for Jones. Former Assumption head coach and Xaverian standout Cory Bailey joined the Chanticleers coaching staff in January 2013 as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach.

La Salle (R.I.) lacrosse building a dynasty

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
La Salle Academy’s boys’ lacrosse team began the 2014 season with back-to-back Division I state championship trophies in the school’s trophy case.

Rhode IslandBut don’t waste your breath asking coach Steve O’Donnell if he expects to add a third consecutive state championship trophy.

“I try not to have expectations,” said O’Donnell, whose team has defeated Hendricken, 16-7, and North Kingstown, 17-5, in the young season. “Obviously, you want to win as much as you can. We have expectations to have a good program and be as competitive as everybody else.

“Be the best you can be and the rest just falls into place.”

O’Donnell, who’s in his ninth season as the La Salle’s head coach, invariably has the Rams among the top teams in the state. As far as he’s concerned, there isn’t a magic formula for the program’s success.

“Continuity, good players and a good system,” O’Donnell said, “they’re successful because a lot of them want to learn and get better.

He continued, “I’m a practice guy. I try to do new things and get them out of the box. They all come from different places but it’s a double-edged sword. Where I am, people say we get to pick the cream of the crop and we get to pick who we want. They pick us. Then, you coach them up. They have different habits. And what’s also important is the school supports the program which has been successful.”

How true.

La Salle ended a drought by beating Moses Brown, 9-7, for its first state championship in 2012 and then vanquished the Quakers again last season by a score of 14-3.

But prior to annexing that initial state title, the Rams were the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s version of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. La Salle lost 10-2 to Hendricken in the 2004 finals, 13-10, to North Kingstown in 2008, 9-8, in overtime to Moses Brown in 2010, and, 6-4, to Hendricken in 2011.

Was there ever a sense that, no matter how hard they tried, the Rams would be unable to capture that elusive state title?

“To me, this is high school sports,” said O’Donnell. “I don’t judge kids by winning championships. It’s an unintended consequence. I measure them by their improvement, especially in terms of the type of kids they become and if they’re coachable.

“When you lose at that level, you question yourself as a coach. I prepare as much as I can. Then, you hope for a lack of injuries which happen in every sport.”

Injuries notwithstanding, the Rams have gone 10-0 in league play in each of the last two seasons. But winning streaks are the least of O’Donnell’s concerns.

“None of that matters to me because we lost a game (13-7 to Medfield in an out-of-state contest),” he said. “I’m not concerned about wins and losses. I am concerned about getting better. Our goal from the beginning of the season to the end is to get better.”

Not only did the Rams get better en route to the 2012 state title but they also endured hardships that might have derailed a lesser team.

“I think winning the first (state title) was difficult in terms of letting the kids know they were good enough to win it,” said O’Donnell. “Two of our top three players were injured at mid-season and that team came together. They learned to win as a team.

“The hardest part, regardless of high school or the pros, is to keep the kids humble. It’s the hardest thing in coaching. I always tell them that, one year, the Jets lost to the Patriots by 40 points and then they beat them the next time they played.”

Winning this season will be difficult from the standpoint that La Salle graduated four First Team All-State selections: attack Brady O’Donnell, who earned All-American honors for a third straight year and set a state record last season by scoring 64 goals to go with his 35 assists; faceoff specialist Pat Foster, who won 70 percent of his faceoffs; midfielder Mike Catarina; and defender Dan Wise, who also was a high school All-American.

But, fortunately for O’Donnell, La Salle wasn’t decimated by graduation.

“We have returnees in three brothers, (defender) John, (attack) Joe and (midfielder) Matt Manown (who scored four goals and assisted on five in the victory over Hendricken),” said O’Donnell. “Joe (who scored 52 goals and assisted on 43) was an All-American last season.

“In addition, we also have senior midfielder Alex Handanyan and (2012 First Team All-State) goalie Matt Andrews. We have some talented younger kids. We plan on having them step in and fill that void. But we’re still figuring out who’s going to fit in the best.”

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

AC's Messuri to play at Hobart

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
In 2012 and '13, Megan Messuri backstopped Arlington Catholic to the Division 1 girls' state hockey final, winning the state title in 2012. Next year, the goaltender will join Hobart and William Smith Colleges first-year women's hockey program, her father tells ESPN Boston.

Messuri was between the pipes for the Cougars win as a sophomore and also helped them to finals appearance against league rival St. Mary's of Lynn as a junior. Last year, Messuri played at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y.

"This is a great opportunity to lead a college team into it's inaugural year in the NCAA," Messuri wrote in an email. "While I fully expect my team to experience a learning curve, my aspiration is to impact my team to ensure we make a title run."
WESTWOOD, Mass. – There are certain places in sport where anything less than a championship need not apply. Duxbury has achieved such a level of success in the recent decades that any season that isn’t capped with hoisting a trophy results in feeling that something isn’t quite right with the universe.

And, so, the Dragons met last year’s state Division 1 champion and No. 1-ranked Xaverian, Thursday night, looking to reestablish a bit of order to the MIAA lacrosse cosmos.

Nearly from its get-go, the night belonged to Duxbury, as the Dragons never trailed in a 10-5 win.

As Duxbury (6-1) ran out to a 4-1 lead after the first quarter, goaltender Nick Marrocco made the Hawks’ deficit look insurmountable, making five saves in the first period alone in a 10-save performance.

“It starts with Nick Marrocco,” Dragons head coach Chris Sweet said of the Georgetown-bound goalie. “As long as we have Nick in the cage, we’ll have a chance against anybody. You saw it, we have a really physical, tough defense. We’re tough to score on.”

Marrocco made four of his five first-period saves on Xaverian (5-1) man-up situations, as the game took on a physical tone from the opening faceoff. Fifteen minutes of penalties were assessed through the first half.

The Dragons were also opportunistic with their early man-up opportunities, with Trevor O’Brien scoring his first of two goals at 7:37 of the first, giving Duxbury a 2-0 lead. O’Brien also capped the first quarter scoring at 1:51, after a Tyler Powers (2 G) goal.

Despite controlling play in the first quarter, the Dragons were unable to pull away in the second quarter, with both teams struggling to find clean looks at the cage. Although Jack Wheeler (2 G) whittled the Dragons’ lead to one with 9:57 to play in the half before Brendan Burke (2 G, 1 A) sent Duxbury to the half with a 5-2 lead.

“Early on, there were a couple difficult shots,” Marrocco said. “Our D was strong and it’s always good to get a couple shots early in the game.”

After trading goals in the third period, Duxbury all but closed out the victory with a string of three straight goals by Shane Sullivan, Shayne O’Brien and Powers.

Horses run loose: Duxbury put its fleet-footed stable of attackmen and midfielders to good use, scoring four goals in transition, outpacing the Hawks with speed.

In fact, the Dragons nearly had another goal tacked on at the end of the first half, as Wes Quinzani, outraced a trio of Hawks defenders, while swinging around the goal for a shot in close. The goal was disallowed as Quinzani was ruled to be in the crease, but it was another striking example of perhaps greatest asset while possessing the ball.

“If anything, I have to settle them down in between quarters and in timeouts,” Sweet said.

Done before it’s over?: Sweet praised his goaltender for his efforts keeping the Dragons in the lead through the early going, putting his game-changing impact in perspective.

“Immediately in the first quarter, he gets in the shooters’ heads, gets them guessing where he has to put it,” Sweet said. “He gets them out of their game.”

Updated Top 25 baseball poll

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
We updated our statewide Top 25 baseball poll earlier this afternoon. To view it, CLICK HERE.

The next poll update will be on Monday, April 28.

A few notes and observations about this week's poll:

Newton North moves up: Following its 2-1 win in 10 innings over Braintree on Saturday, Newton North jumps six spots up to No. 2, its highest ranking ever in the history of our poll. How long that lasts remains to be seen, however, with a pivotal battle against Xaverian coming on Thursday. Both of the Bay State Conference's representatives are in the Top 10, with Braintree (9) joining Newton North after stumbling six spots from last week with the loss.

Bridgewater-Raynham remains the No. 1 team in the land, a spot it has held continuously since the final poll of the 2013 season. Rounding out the top five are Boston College High (3), St. John's of Shrewsbury (4) and Peabody (5).

Silver Lake back with a vengeance: After being unceremoniously dropped from the last poll update on the heels of a 12-1 loss to Duxbury, Silver Lake skyrockets back into the poll at No. 8, thanks to two victories over then-No. 2 Plymouth North sandwiched around a 9-1 rout of No. 17 Middleborough. The Lakers, our preseason No. 14, have a must-see matchup with No. 1 Bridgewater-Raynham on Thursday in the finals of the Brad Martin Tournament.

Returns and debuts: Leominster, a preseason Top 15 selection, is back in the poll at No. 21 following its 6-2 victory over Hudson. Meanwhile, five teams make season debuts in the back end of the poll: Masconomet (20), West Springfield (22), Algonquin (23), Bellingham (24) and Chicopee (25).

As always, here is how the poll breaks down by league affiliation:

Catholic Conference - 4
Atlantic Coast - 2
Bay State - 2
Central Mass. Conference - 2
Merrimack Valley - 2
Mid-Wach A - 2
Patriot - 2
Valley Wheel - 2
Cape Ann - 1
Dual County - 1
Northeastern - 1
Old Colony - 1
Tri-Valley - 1
Valley League - 1


Martin Tourney: No. 8 Silver Lake 5, No. 12 P-North 2

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
PLYMOUTH, Mass. -– For the second time in less than a week, the Silver Lake baseball team got the best of Plymouth North because of some gutsy base running, this time slipping past the Eagles, 5-2, to advance to Thursday’s championship of the Brad Martin Tournament against No. 1 Bridgewater-Raynham.

All five of the Lakers' runs were a byproduct of aggressive base running, coming on the heels of SL tying last week’s game against North on a straight steal of home.

“That’s just how we play,” said Silver Lake coach Ken Tocci. “We’re going to be aggressive out there and we’re going to make the defense make plays. If teams don’t want us to do that stuff, they need to stop it.”

Tanner Bouchard (2-for-4, 3 runs) set the tone for the Lakers (6-1) in the top of the first. He led off the game with a double down the right field line, then took third on a hard hit ball that took the shortstop toward centerfield.

After the fielder’s choice, he scampered home on a ball that slipped through the catcher’s legs for a 1-0 advantage.
After Plymouth North got a run in each of the third and fourth innings, Bouchard tied the game with his legs in the sixth. He walked to lead off the inning, then moved to second on a dropped pop-up in the outfield.

Dancing off second, continually faking to break for third, Bouchard and Matt Cauchon were both awarded a base when North starter Brian Christian was called a balk.

One pitch later, Bouchard darted home as the ball again squirted between the catcher’s legs. The junior took off without hesitation, before the ball was clearly headed for the backstop.

“He was in the wind-up, so I had a little extra hop,” said Bouchard. “With this turf, I know it’s just going to fly away. Right when I saw get it away I just took off.”

From there, walks to both Anthony Videtto and Adam Gay loaded the bases, setting up another bold play on the bases. The Lakers added another run after Ryne McNeilly dropped a successful suicide squeeze, something that came as a surprise after the Lakers lost a runner on a failed attempt earlier in the game.

“We really do live and die by that style of play,” said Tocci. “We weren’t going to give up on being aggressive because it didn’t work one time. We had a guy not get the squeeze down before, and that time we got a guy in there who we knew would. With a pinch hitter coming in and the bases loaded, I didn’t think they be expecting the squeeze. I probably wouldn’t have expected it.”

Said North coach Dwayne Follette: “I was surprised he squeezed again because we sniffed it out the first time. Give them credit, that’s their game.”

If the squeeze wasn’t enough, Silver Lake tallied its third run of the sixth when Will Gallagher blistered a grounder toward third. Videtto was forced out at the plate, but Gallagher beat the following throw to first base to keep the inning going.

Gay had broken hard from second base on the play and never slowed as he hit third, turning for home and just beating a return throw to the plate to put SL up 4-2.

“He was watching me, and if I don’t hold him up he know he has the green light to go,” said Tocci. “Coming around, he takes a peek over his shoulder and if he thinks he’s got it, he’s going. It’s all on him. If he got thrown, well, we live by the sword and die by the sword. Make them make the play.”

Bouchard tacked on the final run in the seventh, reaching on an error then taking second on a passed ball, stealing third, and scoring on another ball to the back stop.

“We’re playing very young and bad baseball right now,” said Follette. “We had three passed balls for runs. We’re just not playing good baseball right now. The one thing I know is we’re getting quality pitching. Brian pitched his butt off, and he deserved to get the win.”

The Northeastern bound Christian didn’t allow an earned run, striking out eight and surrendering three hits and four walks in the loss.

Unfortunately for Christian and Plymouth North, Videtto was impressive on the mound for the Lakers. He mixed up speeds pretty well and hit enough spots to toss a complete game, allowing four hits and walking three, but gave up just one earned even though he only recorded one strikeout.

“Anthony didn’t have his best stuff today,” said Tocci. “He’s thrown games this year where he looked better out there, but the good ones find a way to compete without their top stuff, and he did that for us today.”


Martin Tourney: No. 1 B-R 13, New Bedford 3

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
PLYMOUTH, Mass. -– When the hitters in front of Jonathan Livolsi gave him ample opportunity to drive in runs in the first round of the Brad Martin Tournament against New Bedford, he delivered for the No. 1 Bridgewater-Raynham baseball team, which cruised to the finals with a 13-3 win.

Livolsi stepped to the plate in the bottom of the first, with the bases loaded and the Trojans already sporting a 2-run lead. After battling off some tough pitches, he hammered a bases clearing double down the line to give B-R a 5-0 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, his teammates loaded the bases once again for Livolsi. This time he drove a triple deep to left center for another three RBI, ending the game via 10-run mercy rule.

“He’s been hot, this is two games in a row he’s knocked some big runs in for us,” said B-R coach John Kearney. “He stayed disciplined. Despite the fact that the pitcher might be struggling a little bit and the bases are loaded, you still have to look for the pitch you want. He let go a couple of borderline strikes, breaking balls on the corner and waited for his fastball to drive. That was what was impressive about it.”

Added Livolsi: “I was just trying to see a lot of pitches, and he gave me some good ones and I hit it hard. You just have to look for your pitch, especially when you get to three balls. They really don’t want to walk you, so you know you’re seeing something to hit.”

New Bedford looked to be clawing back into this one it the third, taking advantage of some defensive miscues by B-R to score three unearned runs.

The Trojans quickly got one back in the bottom half of the inning after Conner Sullivan, who scored three runs despite not registering an official at-bat, drew the second of his four walks. Adam Chase followed with a triple into the right field gap.

The following inning the Trojans scored two more on senior Joe Freiday’s fourth homer of the season, an inside the parker that seemed to drift all over the place in Tuesday’s windy conditions.

After allowing the three runs early, winning pitcher Andrew Noviello settled in on the mound for the Trojans, retiring nine of the final 10 hitters he faced en route to the complete game win in which he surrendered five hits and two walks while striking out four to help B-R punch it’s ticket to Thursday’s championship against Silver Lake.

“He’s a veteran, he’s been around,” said Kearney. “He’s pitched a lot of games against a lot of good teams. He knows what he has to do to compose himself. There was a stretch in the second, third, fourth innings where their leadoff guy reached base and he was having trouble locating his breaking pitch and off-speed stuff. Once he started to get command of it, that made all the difference.”

Foreseeing Freiday’s homer: It was almost as if Kearney saw Freiday’s round tripper coming, despite that the first three homers for the catcher this season have all been no doubters, blasts well over the fence.

“We did a special drill in practice for Joe to practice the inside the park run, and I think that was the key,” laughed Kearney. “He led the way in the sprint in practice. The kids are hustling though. We try to encourage the kids to play smart baseball, and running hard out of the box is a part of that.”

And in the win over New Bedford, Freiday made sure yesterday’s drill wasn’t a wasted one, and sprinted out of the box even though his drive appeared headed over the fence coming off the bat. A strong wind blowing in kept the ball in the park, but it also caused fits for the outfielders chasing the ball.

“Off the bat, I thought it was a no doubter to be honest,” Freiday said. “The wind just knocked it down for me. This is a big park so once it came off the bat, so I just tried to bust my butt down the line. I saw the centerfielder drifting so I just kept running, and then I got waved in coming around third and I was just hoping I could get to home.”


Recap: No. 7 Cathedral 3, Central 2

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- It is a well-known fact that Peter Crinella is regarded by most as being one of the top five hockey players in the state. What many may not know is the Springfield Cathedral junior isn't too shabby as a baseball player either.

During Tuesday's inter-city clash against Springfield Central, Crinella, playing third base, made a diving stop of a Edwin Camacho bullet with the bases loaded to prevent a run. Then, with one out in the top of the fifth inning and his team ahead by a run, Crinella was called upon to take the mound in the hopes of preventing the Golden Eagles from inflicting any further damage.

Crinella answered the call magnificently as he held Central without a hit over the final 2 2/3 innings in helping the Panthers earn a 3-2 victory at Walker Grandstand on the grounds of Forest Park.

Crinella came on in relief of DJ Petruzzelli, who had struggled with his command throughout the afternoon. Crinella had a moving fastball that was hitting the edges on both sides of the plate consistently.

"DJ is a lefty who was throwing hard so it's a nice change of pace with me coming in throwing hard from the right side," said Crinella, who is committed to hockey at Holy Cross. "(Head) coach (Pat) Moriarty was telling me to drive my legs and use my body which I hadn't been doing so much in the past. He got me going today so it felt much better."

With the victory, the Panthers improve to 6-2 while the Golden Eagles drop to 4-4.

Scoreless over the first two frames, Central got to Petruzzelli for a run in its half of the third. Sam Allen walked and Ju'an Williams followed with a single. After a ground out advanced both runners, Isan Diaz was intentionally walked. Eddie Acevedo followed and demonstrated great patience at the plate as the senior earned a walk to force Allen in from third.

Moments later, Camacho speared a hard grounder that appeared destined for left field, but Crinella made a diving stab, got up and stepped on third before Diaz could get there for the force out and keep it a one-run deficit.

Cathedral wasted little time answering back. In the bottom half of the inning, Cam Griffin singled and took second on a pass ball. A walk to Matt Cieboter was quickly followed by a pair of outs.

That left it up to Kevin Hassett. The senior came up huge by belting an opposite field double to right to score both runners and give the Panthers a 2-1 lead. Hassett's shot got caught up in the wind and was slicing away from right fielder Luis Ortiz who came within an eyelash of making a great diving catch.

In the Golden Eagles' half of the fourth, they would load the bases against Petruzzelli with none out. Allen then stroked a hard single to left to knot things at 2-2. After Williams popped to Crinella for Central's first out, the Golden Eagles were still in good shape to add to their total with the bases full. But they would only settle for the one run after Petruzzelli got Seth Allen to bounce into a double play.

With righthander Mike LaFlamme now on the hill in place of Camacho (3 IP, 3 hits) to begin the bottom of the fourth, the sophomore made quick work of the first two Panther batters but walked No. 9 batter Nate Jurkowski. The senior then stole second and came around to score on Griffin's bleeder into left to give Cathedral the lead for good.

"We've been playing a lot of situational hitting and not be afraid to score with two outs," Moriarty said. "We took a couple of extra bases and managed to get key hits at the right time. Central had their chances early but DJ was able to wiggle out of it pretty well and I thought Pete did a great job coming in and slamming the door shut. He's got good velocity and like him in this role as a closer."

LaFlamme, who was called up to the varsity just prior to this game, settled down nicely after the fourth, allowing just one hit over the final two frames.

"He impressed us," Golden Eagles head coach Mike Donato said. "The only mistake he made was (Griffin's) hit just over the shortstop's glove. Offensively today it just wasn't there for us. We really weren't challenging their defense at all by hitting a lot of balls into the air.

"Cathedral made the plays they needed to make to win this game and we didn't. They came through with some big two-out hits which are things that win you baseball games. We just didn't get enough of those things today."

With Crinella now on in relief, the Golden Eagles had a difficult time trying to time his fastball. Their bats through the zone were slow which made things much easier for Crinella, who was in control for the remainder of this game.

"As you would expect this was two good teams going at it today," Crinella said. "You never stop being positive and we all had a plan going up to the plate. We had some big hits all around and it wasn't coming from the number 3, 4 or 5 guys as you would expect but it came from everyone and that's huge."

Following the game, several Major League Baseball scouts were on hand to watch Diaz take batting practice. Diaz, a Vanderbilt University commit, but is also projected to be selected in the early rounds of June's MLB Amateur Draft, hit several deep shots using a wooden bat.


Recap: Agawam 2, No. 10 Longmeadow 1

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
AGAWAM, Mass. -- After loading the bases in the bottom of the seventh and only to come up empty, Agawam softball was given a second reprieve one inning later. With the game tied, the Brownies put runners at the corners with one out.

This time around there would be no disappointment.

Senior Mary Reidy lined a Jillian Stockley fastball to right field for a single that scored Maria Moccio with the game-winning run giving Agawam a tightly-fisted 2-1 triumph over Longmeadow on Patriots Day.

With one out in the frame, Moccio, a freshman, reached on an infield single. Pinch-hitter Alyssa Eggleston laid down a sacrifice bunt but on the play, Lancer second baseman Kaitlynn Geier, covering first, failed to look the ball into her glove as it rolled into foul territory. That set the stage for Reidy's walk-off single.

"That was a repeat of the [Western Mass.] final of last year (won by the Brownies 1-0)," said Agawam head coach Kathy Georgina, her team improving to 6-1. "It was the same intensity as that final by both teams. We started getting our bats going late today. Once we got the timing down I was beginning to feel a lot more comfortable and we also played tremendous defense today which was huge."

In the first five innings, Stockley, a junior fireballer, kept Agawam in check, holding them to a pair of singles. Longmeadow (6-2) already enjoyed a 1-0 lead courtesy of Ally Mishol's RBI triple in the first off of Brownies superb sophomore ace Allison Wheeler, who no-hit Palmer in her previous outing.

In most cases, a one run lead for Stockley is enough. Once the Lancers took the lead, Wheeler finally settled down quite nicely, allowing just two hits the rest of the way while striking out eight.

"A win like this certainly boosts confidence," Georgina said. "That was a quality team that we faced and during the season to this point we hadn't really had a test except for Westfield. Today was a really good test and by winning it is a huge confidence boost for all of our girls."

With the game now reaching dangerous territory for the defending Division 1 state finalists, the Brownies knew they to come through with something positive to get back in it. In the sixth, those hopes were answered. Senior Danielle Stratton, who entered with a batting average of .520, began things with a slap single to right. After taking second on a pass ball, she would sprint home moments later on Taylor Marcotte's ground single to the left side knotting things at 1-1.

"Obviously we wanted to win today," Lancers head coach Steve Marcil said. "But I think we are still fine. We took a lot of positives out of today. I still thing we are going to be there as long as we keep working at it. We need to make some strides and make better contact. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. We would have liked it to be us today but we're still very confident. We know what we are and we'll be fine."

After Wheeler set Longmeadow down in order in the seventh, Agawam, with newfound momentum, was looking to end things in its half of the frame.
It certainly appeared as though the Brownies would do just that. Reidy opened with a single to right. Rebecca Uschmann next laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached base safely after Stockley threw wide of the bag putting both runners into scoring position.

Stockley (8 IP, 7 hits, 11 Ks) re-asserted herself by retiring the next two batters. After Stratton (2 hits) was intentionally walked to load the bases, it was now up to Stockley to get out of the mess. The UConn-commit bore down by striking out Rachel Lapponese to disperse of the threat.

It certainly would have been easy for Agawam to hang its heads after failing to score in regulation, but they didn't. Realizing they had the bat speed to catch up to Stockley's fastball, the Brownies continued to walk up to the plate aggressively, and in the eighth, that demeanor would pay huge dividends.

"We are a young team overall and I think we handled the added pressure of playing extra innings well," said Stratton. "We came through when it mattered the most. I think we did all we could do to get on base. People came through with some big hits. We were really prepared for the level of pitching we were going to see today."

Memorable weekend for CM at Chowda Cup

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
SCITUATE, Mass. -- Midway through Saturday afternoon’s Chowda Cup Championship game between Catholic Memorial and Scituate, the question wasn’t who as going to hoist the trophy after the game, but which Knights player would be awarded the tournament MVP.

Catholic Memorial opened up an 8-2 halftime lead over the Sailors, en route to a 14-8 victory and their first Chowda Cup title. For the Knights it was their fourth appearance in the title game since they joined the annual tournament five years ago.

Senior attackman Zach O’Brien scored six goals in the win and found the net 10 times during the duration of the tournament and seemed like a lock for the MVP award. But the superb play of Joe Zegarelli between the pipes earned him the award given to the top player in the two-day tournament.

“I wasn’t expecting to get the award,” Zegarelli said. “I thought it was going to go to Zach O’Brien, he really deserves it with all the goals he scored.”

Zegarelli didn’t see the quantity of shots that he did Thursday evening in the semifinal win over Cohasset, but for the sophomore goalie it was quality over quantity.

In the third quarter, Zegarelli robbed Scituate’s Frankie Ragge from deep down low in the zone to highlight to phenomenal day.

“We were focused on playing good solid one-on-one defense and I thought Zegs made the saves when he need to, really a team defense approach,” CM head coach Kevin Lynch said.

The Knights owned a heavily lopsided possession battle throughout the game and Colin Casey was the reason why. The freshman was 17-for-23 on faceoffs, giving his team a big possession advantage.

The beneficiaries of Casey’s big day on the faceoffs were O’Brien and Frank Cosolito, who combined for 10 of the Knights 14 goals.

“It really started with Colin Casey our freshman,” O’Brien said. “He was getting the ball to us on offense and constantly getting the win on faceoffs and getting the looks we needed and finishing.”

Scituate struggled throughout the game, looking like a shell of the team that took the field in Thursday night’s overtime win over Marshfield. The Sailors were sloppy with the ball, turning it over and airmailing passes through the zone.

“As good as we played against Marshfield, we just couldn’t get that same level of energy up,” Scituate head coach Mark Puzzangara said. “You can just tell when we needed that big play, it’s a dropped pass or a lost stick or throwing the ball out of bounds, we were just getting caught up in the moment.”

Thursday Thriller: The headliner of the Chowda cup semifinals was the matchup between No. 14 Catholic Memorial and No. 18 Cohasset. But it was the second game of the evening between No. 22 Marshfield and Scituate that stole the show.

With the Rams holding a 5-3 lead with less than two minutes remaining and Marshfield goalie Trevor Scollins pitching a shutout in the second half, the Rams were in prime position to advance to the title game.

But the Sailors’ Trevor Ciessau scored two goals in the final 1:45 of the game, including the equalizer with just two seconds left on the clock to force overtime.

Less than a minute into the extra period, Ragge netted the game winner from the right wing to advance the Sailors into the title game.

“We showed tremendous heart and courage and they really rebounded and rallied around each other and put together an effort we all knew they could,” Puzzangara said after Thursday’s game.

A coaching milestone: Lost in the wild finish of Scituate’s overtime winner was the milestone hit by Sailor coach Puzzangara. The win was No. 200 of his career was achieved in dramatic fashion.

“I think winning a state championship is pretty big but that was a heck of a game to get it in overtime against a team like that, its pretty sweet,” Puzzangara said.

Pair of heavyweights: The premier matchup of the day got the seventh annual Chowda Cup underway with the Knights pulling past Cohasset 10-8.

CM went on a 4-0 run in the third quarter to separate from the Sailors and advance to the title game.

Zack O’Brien was the star of the game, netting four goals in the win, but nearly missed out on the game, showing up right before the game started.

“I put Scituate High School in my phone and didn’t look at what state it was in, drove all the way to Rhode Island and saw the sign and had to turn around and showed up late,” O’Brien said of his blunder.

Cosolito scored three times and Gunnar McKenzie added two more goals in the win for Catholic Memorial.

Recap: No. 15 Malden Cath. 4, No. 9 Billerica 2 (9 inn.)

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
BILLERICA, Mass. -- The ebb and flow in this one changed nearly as much as the swirling winds gusting across Hall of Fame Field. Saturday's contest between Malden Catholic and Billerica had as many momentum shifts as it did busts. Opportunities, on both sides, were seized and lost in an instant.

Yet in the end, the Lancers were able to take advantage of a questionable balk call which would lead to a pair of ninth inning runs en route to a 4-2 victory.

With the game deadlocked through eight innings, Indians reliever Kyle Murphy began the ninth by issuing back-to-back walks to Austin Batchelor and Steve Passatempo. With pinch-hitter Dan DiMare at the plate, and showing bunt, Murphy spun around and faked a throw to second base. The junior, who is already committed to Northeastern University, was immediately charged with a balk for buckling his knee, advancing both runners into scoring position.

DiMare then proceeded to lift a soft single to right, plating Batchelor with the go-ahead run. Ian Steckel (2 hits) followed that up with a hard single to right to put MC ahead by a pair. Murphy was able to get out of the frame without further damage. But a two-run lead at this juncture appeared safe in many people's eyes, except for Billerica who thought differently.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians would load the bases against relief pitcher Zach Coles with only one out. But the 220-pound senior righty managed to tight-rope his way out of danger by getting Brian Doherty to foul out on a nice over the shoulder catch by first baseman Passatempo and get Brad Fisher to ground out to secure the win.

"It was an up and down game between two good teams," said Lancers head coach Pat Driscoll, his club now evening its record to 4-4. "Billerica is a great team but I was proud of my guys today. They were very resilient. They kept working and it eventually paid off for us. Some guys who hadn't gotten much playing time this year stepped in and did a great job."

MC got a serviceable outing from starting pitcher Dan Marini. The righthander kept the offensive-prone Indians off-balance by locating his fastball and breaking pitches extremely well. Marini, a junior, surrendered nine hits in 7 1/3 innings while fanning seven.

"Marini did a great job," Driscoll said. "He really mixed it up. Billerica is a great hitting team and he just did a good job of keeping them off-balanced enough and allowing them to hit the ball in play and allowing us to make the plays."

MC jumped out to a 1-0 lead in its half of the second. Steckel took starting pitcher Rob Gambale's first offering deep to left for a double. After moving to third, Steckel scored on Russell Libby's ground out. Billerica threatened in its half of the frame. Singles by Adam Mahrez and Dylan McDonough put two on with none out.

After Marini struckout Kevin Faria, Cam Climo followed with a shot to deep left. Aided by the strong winds, the ball continued to slice away from Steckel in left field. But junior had the poise to stay with it, making the catch just in front of the foul pole. Mahrez, thinking it was a base hit all the way, never stopped running and was forced out trying to get back to second base.

Two innings later the Lancers got to Gambale (7 IP, 4 hits, 8 Ks) for another run. Passatempo singled. Two outs later, Marini smashed a drive high off the right field fence, that missed a home run by a foot, that plated Passatempo to make it 2-0.

The Indians answered in the bottom half of the frame as they finally began to solve Marini. University of Maine commit Chris Murphy opened the inning by lining a double to left. With Doherty in to pinch run, he would advance to third on a ground out.

McDonough next lined a single to center putting Billerica on the board. Faria followed with another double and Gambale walked to load the bases. After McDonough scored on a pass ball, Marini was able to work himself out of the jam, keeping the game tied.

"A couple of things we could've done better today and might've had a different outcome," Indians head coach Joe Higgins said. "We played a good team and feel we can play with anybody. We had our chances but you have to tip your cap to Malden Catholic today. Now we need to rebound because we have a tough game against Lowell on Tuesday.

"We have a great bunch of guys on this team. We have good pitching and we can also hit. Today was just one of those games where we just didn't get that break we needed."

Over the next four innings things remained even. Billerica had a chance to win it in its half of the eighth after loading the bases but Coles, who entered with two on and one out, came away unscathed. One inning later, MC had its opportunity to move in front and didn't disappoint after coming up with some timely hits with runners on base.

"It was a really back-and-forth game," said Steckel. "Everyone played well and Marini pitched great. We've been in a lot of close games and we've gotten used it by now. Games like this are only going to help us later in the season.

"Beating Billerica is huge for us after losing two straight. Coming back the way we did today is a really good feeling and now we hope that continues."


BRAINTREE, Mass. -– With a strong arm blessed enough to earn a commitment next season to UMass, it’s not often that baserunners test Braintree catcher Gino LaRossa, one of the state’s best backstops.

In fact, when Newton North coach Joe Siciliano put on the steal sign in the top of the 10th inning for his fastest player, Ben Porter, it was the first time all game they had made an attempt. But Porter himself is regarded for his speed on the basepaths, honed during sprint events during indoor track and field season in the winter, enough of a calculated risk to give it a shot.

Porter came in cleanly at second, then scored two at bats later when junior Tom Joyce flared a singled up the middle, for the go-ahead run in an eventual 2-1 win over the Wamps in a battle between two Top 10 stalwarts in Massachusetts.

“It feels good being able to say I won it for the team, but I didn’t really win it,” said Joyce, who went 1-for-5 on the afternoon. “It came down to pitching and defense. It was an all-around team win, it felt good.”

The Tigers (4-0) indeed got solid production from two pitchers to keep the heavy Wamps (4-1) bats at bay. Senior lefthander Teddy Rodliff had a no-hitter going through the first five innings, going seven strong with three strikeouts, four hits allowed and an unearned run. Senior rightnander Dylan Sbordone gave the Tigers three innings of relief, allowing just one hit and fanning three.

“The big thing with him is mental toughness,” Siciliano said of Rodliff. “He’s got that idea, and he’s got that confidence. Plus, he’s got great disposition for a pitcher.”

Senior catcher Alex Joyce (1 for 2, RBI, 2 BB) gave the Tigers the initial lead of the game in the top of the first inning, taking a fastball to right field for an RBI double that scored Porter (2 for 2, 2 BB, 2 runs). North had arguably its biggest scoring chance of the day thwarted in the fourth inning, when Braintree third baseman Connor Columbus stabbed a grounder to the left side of the infield and made an unassisted tag at third.

The Wamps evened it up in the sixth thanks to some heady base running from Matt Bickford. The senior beat out a 4-6-3 double play throw to first, then moved to second on a base hit from Columbus. In the next at bat, Rodliff’s pickoff attempt of Bickford sailed into the outfield, and Bickford made it all the way home to tie it at 1.

But similar woes with runners in scoring position did not evade the Wamps either. In arguably their best chance of the afternoon, they juiced the bases in the bottom of the seventh with one out, only to come up empty with back-to-back putouts to first base.

“We’re a pretty good defensive team, I don’t think we showed it today, but we just gotta get some more timely hitting,” Wamps head coach Bill O’Connell said.

In the second at bat of the top of the 10th, Porter drew a walk on seven pitches, then beat La Rossa’s pickoff throw to take second, and moved to third after John Little reached on an error.

“I was happy coach gave me the sign, because I wanted to get that winning run,” Porter said.

Tom Joyce then sent Porter home with his shot up the middle off a fastball from Bickford.

“At that point, I’m letting Tom Joyce swing away,” Siliciano said. “He and his brother are bright baseball coaches, you don’t have to coach them much.”

Southpaw sui generis: “Jeez!” Siciliano yelled out to Rodloff as he gathered his belongings from the visiting dugout, continuing with a laugh, “Two years ago here, you threw one pitch and got the win. So, we owe you, you know? Baseball, it all evens out.”

It was around that time, too, that Siciliano tried with no avail to fix Rodloff’s delivery after watching him sidearm infield throws from first base during a practice. After watching four more conventional throws sail to the backstop, Siciliano threw up his hands and said, “Forget about it, do whatever you want”.

Lefties, they’re all the same, in that they are all different.

Rodloff’s pitching motion and delivery is among the more unique styles one will see this spring, one that has carefully been crafted over a decade. Rodloff says he initially started out trying to throw submarine style (coincidentally, around the same time famous knuckle-scraping submariner Chad Bradford threw relief for the Red Sox), but switched to a sidearm very early in his little league career.

Adding a twist to his fastball-slurve repertoire is his unorthodox follow-through, in which his back foot drags and finishes kicking out to the side, instead of coming along for the ride like more traditional pitching motions.

“I started out with more of an underhand, but my dad told me I was going to blow out my arm by age 10,” Rodloff said with a laugh. “It just sort of works for me, so I go with it.

“It just felt right. Being a lefty is weird enough, but my dad told me to get any sort of advantage you can against the other team. People don’t see that every day, so that was my way of getting ahead.”

For O’Connell, who typically bats several lefties, Rudloff’s unique matchup problem influenced his decision to counter with a batting order comprised solely of righthanded bats.

“He was tough,” O’Connell said. “He had a fastball, and then a little giddy-up fastball. It seemed like he was chasing his fastball speeds, had a two-seamer going then a little slider. He was tough. He’s about as good as you’re going to see.”