Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Infectious hitting habits carrying No. 10 D-R
By Mike Scandura
Senior Adam Benvie (.417, 23 RBI) is one of five Dighton-Rehoboth players currently hitting over .400. As a team, the No. 10 Falcons are batting .370 and averaging nearly 11 runs per game.
DIGHTON, Mass. -– For the majority of the season, Dighton-Rehoboth’s games have been nothing more than a series of glorified batting practices.
To a certain extent, that was the case on Wednesday as the Falcons -- who started this week ranked No. 10 in ESPNBoston.com's statewide MIAA poll -- spotted Case a two-run lead and rallied for an 8-2 victory.
As a result, D-R (11-0, 9-0) remained atop the South Coast Conference standings. But what was ironic was that even though the Falcons were a collective 8-for-25 at the plate, their team batting average dropped four points to .370.
“From the Day One we’ve been on a roll and our offense has been swinging the bats well,” said Mike St. John, who was 3-for-4 with two RBI. “Once we start going, we’re off and there’s no looking back. I think our bats have definitely carried the team along with great pitching and defense.”
Perhaps the one at-bat that typified D-R’s approach occurred in the fifth inning which began with the Falcons leading by a tenuous margin of 4-2.
Leadoff batter Andrew Harris, who hits from the left side, slapped a two-run single to left field which upped D-R’s lead to 6-2.
The fact that Harris went the other way instead of pulling the ball and risk grounding out was notable.
“That was one of the best at-bats of the game because it gave us a little bit of a cushion,” said D-R coach Bill Cuthbertson. “I thought we were off-balance and we were trying to do a little bit too much. Give their pitcher (Nick Moreira) credit. (Harris) did a nice job taking that breaking ball the other way. It was nice to see him rewarded for that.”
Since 10 Falcons began the game hitting over .300, one obvious question is: how much of their offense is a product of natural ability, and how much is a product of hard work?
“It’s both,” said Cuthbertson. “We’ve got some kids who are good players and are going to play in college and who’ve been playing for me for three or four years. So, they have a lot of experience. But we’ve also got some kids who are new to the varsity.
“What we’ve preached and what we’re getting better at is being patient, trying to get a good pitch to hit, being selective, not getting yourself out, having a good approach and having a quality at-bat. What we’re trying to get is nine guys in the lineup who give quality at-bats consistently. Then you can live with what happens.
“Generally when you do that,” continued Cuthbertson, “you’re going to be productive. That’s been the case so far this year.”
Three of the most productive Falcons are senior captains Evan Mondor (.514 with 13 RBI), Bryan Rocha (.457) and Adam Benvie (.417 with 23 RBI).
“They’re highly-motivated kids who are self-directed,” said Cuthbertson. “They want to be good and they set a great example for our younger players. Watching the game you can see the level of their intensity. They’ve played a lot of baseball. They’re experienced and they know what it takes to be good.
“Benvie and Rocha have started for me for four years and Mondor has started for three. They’ve been in a lot of pressure situations and they know how to handle themselves. I think what you saw today was in their at-bats they were patient even though their pitcher was nibbling and nibbling. Their approach was good and hopefully that was infectious with some of the other guys.”
After Case (3-9, 3-6) scored single runs in the second and third against Zack Reid (3-0), D-R hung a four-spot on the board in the third, with St. John lining a two-run single to right-center and Shane Gousie lining an RBI single to left.
After Harris’s two-run single in the fifth, D-R put the game out of reach by scoring twice in the sixth –- one run coming when Benvie stole home and another when Trevor Brown singled.
Since the Falcons are undefeated and have outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 116-26, it would be an understatement that they step on the field for each game with a target on their collective backs. But that doesn’t faze St. John.
“When teams are playing us we get everybody’s best,” said St. John. “I think that’s what makes us a better team. Every game we get a little bit better with a better pitcher that we face and seeing good stuff all the time.
“I think that’s why we’re in the position that we’re in.”