Sunday, April 6, 2014
Recap: No. 6 Xaverian 10, Wellesley 5
By John McGuirk
WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Opening day in high school baseball does not hold the same pomp and circumstance as those celebrated by Major League clubs. However, there is a common thread that is shared.
Opening day represents a time when the previous season (good or bad) is forgotten about and the focus now reflects on the present.
For Wellesley and Xaverian, last year's disappointment for not reaching their respective goal has been put to rest. Saturday meant a fresh beginning for both of these programs whom together, believe they have enough talent to carry them deep into the postseason.
For Xaverian, last year's 10-11 finish was viewed a major disappointment after having won the Division 1 state crown the previous season. Likewise, Wellesley had its share of ups and downs a year ago finishing 12-11 followed by an early exit from the Division 2 tournament.
Against Xaverian, the Raiders, early on, displayed the type of offense head coach Rob Kane had hoped for. His team was aggressive at the plate versus Hawks starter Paul Regan, jumping out to a four-run lead. But to Wellesley's dismay, its pitching failed to sustain it as Xaverian bounced back magnificently, scoring three times in the fifth and adding four more in the sixth in rallying for a 10-5 victory.
"Wellesley jumped out on us good early," Hawks head coach Gerry Lambert said. "I thought they swung the bats well, especially in those first two innings."
The Raiders grabbed 5-1 after two frames before Xaverian began to chip away. The momentum swing in this one came in Wellesely's half fifth. On top 5-3, and with a chance to put the Hawks away after putting a pair of runners in scoring position with no out, a communication error saw them run themselves into outs, failing to pad their advantage.
With runners in scoring position and no out, pinch-runner Jack McManus was thrown out at the plate by third baseman Kevin Dolan on Ghiho Ghim's fielder's choice. Brad Marchetti then walked to load the bases. With Davis Wall up at bat, Andrew Lindquist -- who reached on a fielder's choice -- tried to steal home but was easily thrown out by relief pitcher Manny Peguero. The sophomore righty followed that up by getting Wall to bounce out and eliminate the threat.
"We had some miscommunication on the bases that inning," explained Raiders head coach Rob Kane. "If we had gotten the ball in play we would've at least scored one run and perhaps put enough pressure on their defense to maybe score two. We weren't trying to steal home on that play.
"Somebody got the wrong sign. What we were planning to do was steal with our next batter (after Wall) because it was our No. 9 hitter and we wanted to get a little more strategy involved. It's just a mistake that we have to be able to overcome. We have some guys on this team with experience but at times on the bases today we didn't show it."
As is the case most often, Xaverian took the momentum of getting out of fifth inning unscathed to plate with them in the bottom of the frame. Peguero opened by reaching on an error. Junior Nick Sette followed with a walk. Relief pitcher Conor Himstead -- facing Dolan, a known power threat -- made the mistake of leaving a fastball up in the zone, and the junior crushed it over the centerfield fence to give the Hawks their first lead on the afternoon at 6-5.
"We needed a spark and as I came to plate I was just thinking to sit on his fastball," Dolan said. "You usually go up there thinking you want to hit a single and it just goes from there. We know we are going to be a grind it out type of team. We lost a lot of seniors but this year's team has a lot of heart and we're just going to go out and work our butts off. This kind of game shows that we cannot ever give up. We were down early but we kept our heads in it the whole game."
Xaverian's come-to-life offense continued in the sixth. Loading the bases against reliever Jack Dolan, Peguero (2-for-2) ripped a double down the left field line to score a pair. Andrew Elliott, who was hit by a pitch, would score moments later on a throwing error (4 committed on the day by the Raiders) to go up 9-5. Another Wellesley fielding mistake produced the Hawks' 10th run.
The five-run lead proved to more than enough for Peguero, who went four innings allowing just one hit, to work with as he set the Raiders down in order in the seventh to finish things out.
Wellesley's offense was looking good early on. The Raiders scored twice in the first inning thanks to Jack Porter's two-run triple into the right-centerfield gap. Xaverian got a run back in the bottom of the inning. The Hawks loaded the bases before sending a run across the plate off a Wellesley fielding miscue.
The Raiders continued their offensive prowess in their half one inning later. With two runners on, Dolan blooped a single to left for an RBI. Shortly thereafter, Cosimo Ferrante roped an opposite field two-run double to right to make it 5-1.
"That fifth inning by shutting them down was certainly a big momentum swing for us," Lambert said. "Making two plays at the plate, those were big outs. Momentum is a big part of things early in the season and we're still finding our way as a team in terms of who is going to lead the way. For us, it's not always going to be the same guy who leads the way.
"Great teams never have the same couple of guys carry you because it's to hard to play the game day after day at a high level. It's just not that way in baseball. Hopefully now we can build off this win."