ROCKLAND, Mass. -– The pitching staff for top-seeded Newton North certainly wasn’t afraid to go right after the explosive hitters featured throughout third-seeded Bridgewater-Raynham’s lineup at Rockland’s Memorial Stadium in a Division 1A Super 8 match-up on Friday afternoon.
Starting pitcher Teddy Rodliff and reliever and winning pitcher Dylan Sbordone pounded the strike zone throughout the Tigers’ 7-5 win, combining to fire 98 of their 147 total pitches for strikes.
“Hitting their spots was the key,” said Newton North coach Joe Siciliano. “Getting them off the plate when they were close to the plate. But no question about it, B-R is a good hitting team. Scary. They (Newton’s pitchers) weren’t scared, I was. I almost got them scared but one of my assistants said ‘Joe, cut it out. We’re a good team.’ And those guys know that B-R is a good team, but we’re not too bad ourselves."
Added Sbordone: “Getting ahead as a pitcher, and I think this goes for anyone, you can throw whatever you want. Oh two count, you’re never throwing anything good. One two count, still probably throwing nothing good. Against a good hitting team like this, you really have to hit your spots.”
Newton North’s mound duo had no issue hitting their spots, limiting the high-powered Trojans (20-3) to just six hits and three walks. Sbordone was especially effective picking up the win as he allowed one hit, one walk and one unearned run while striking out five in his three innings of relief work.
Normally a starter for the Tigers, the Southern New Hampshire commit relished the opportunity to come out of the bullpen behind Rodliff (6 IP, 4 ER, 8 K, 5 H, 2 BB).
“I’ve always been a pitcher,” emphasized Sbordone. “Wherever coach needs me, I’ll go. I like starting more because I like going longer in games. My arm is conditioned to go longer but certainly closing, I love it. Coming in and closing the door, against a team like this, I wanted the ball. I always want the ball.”
Added Siciliano: “He had done that a couple times this year and he understands that might be is role, so it wasn’t too much of an adjustment. Dylan has what we call a jello rubber arm. Some pitchers who are usually a starter, I might have to send out (to the bullpen) three or four innings before. Him, I put him out there an inning before.”
The win pushes the Tigers (22-1) into the finals of the double elimination tournament, while Bridgewater-Raynham will meet Braintree Sunday night at 6 at Campanelli Stadium to try and earn a trip to the championship round through the one-loss bracket.
No Lineup Let-up: Newton North’s offense got a kick-start from the back half of the lineup on Friday and especially from the three hitters at the bottom of its order.
Tom Joyce, Christian Cox and Eric Mah combined to go 4-for-8 with two walks, four runs scored and two RBI to pace the Tigers attack.
“If you look at good the good teams, their seventh, eighth and ninth hitters battle,” said Siciliano. “And while our batting averages aren’t that high, they do battle. They were the guys that got it going.”
Leading off the bottom of the second, Mike Barbieri was hit by a pitch. After a failed sacrifice bunt attempt resulted in a pop out, Joyce followed with a one out walk. Cox singled up the middle to load the bases and Mah delivered a 2-run double to right field.
Cox and Mah came around to score on singles by Ben Porter and Alex Joyce to give Newton North a 4-0 lead.
The Trojans got two back the next inning on a Jon Livolsi 2-run homer to right, and tied the game in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Adam Chas and a single off the bat of Connor Sullivan.
Newton North added a pair of unearned runs in the seventh, and Cox scored the final run for the Tigers after working a walk and eventually scoring on a throwing error in the eighth.
That run would prove important in the ninth. Corey Dinunno laced a single to right that may have tied the game without it, but Cory Wasylow was held up at third as his run no longer would’ve knotted the score.
Monson a relief for B-R: Andrew Noviello surrendered the four runs Newton North scored early, but the most troubling thing for the Trojans was his mounting pitch count early in the game. After just three innings, he had tossed 76 pitches.
Senior Josh Monson came on to start the fourth, and delivered an impressive five-inning relief appearance. He allowed one hit and two walks.
“Monson was great. Five innings, no earned runs,” said B-R coach John Kearney. “Josh has been great all year, I can’t say enough about Josh. He hadn’t pitched in a week so he was ready. Monson’s effort was as expected – he’s been like that all year. For two years really.”
Monson was victimized by a trio of B-R errors behind him, leading to three unearned runs for the Tigers and leaving him on the hook for the loss.
The tall righty slowed the surging Newton North offense though, keeping them off-balance throughout his appearance with a big looping curveball that he had no trouble throwing for a strike. Of the 80 pitches he threw, 49 were curveballs. Of the 49 curves, Monson twirled 32 of them for strikes.
“He probably does throw more breaking balls than he does fastballs. That’s nothing unusual,” said Kearney. “Josh is a totally different kind of pitcher (than Noviello). Novi is trying to throw everything a lot harder obviously and Monson comes in and mixes it up more. He gave us a chance to get back in the ball game.”