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.”