TAUNTON, Mass. -- It's a luxury for high school teams to have a burly, overpowering, Division 1-bound ace the top of the pitching rotation, an intimidator who can take on a big workload and quiet the opposition's bats on days when one's own aren't working.
To have two of them? That's an extravagance.
One day after 6-foot-5, 240-pound Niagara-bound lefty Mac Curran went the distance in a win over Bishop Stang, the Warriors turned to senior Donny May, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound righty bound for Fordham, in their tussle with unbeaten Bishop Feehan. May went the distance, striking out seven, as they beat the visiting Shamrocks 3-1 at Hopewell Park to claim first place outright in the Eastern Athletic Conference.
Along with the seven K's, May allowed four hits, walked none and allowed one earned run. But perhaps most impressive was the fact he needed just 76 pitches to do it.
"My fastball was up there, everything was pretty much in synch," May said. "Feehan's a great team, I knew had to come here and compete. Especially having a great trainer here at school, getting me stretched out and loose really helps, loosening up the arm, getting going. Today everything was stemming off my fastball. When I can do that, game over."
Coyle (8-1, 3-0) spotted May three runs in the first two innings to give him some room to work with.
In the bottom of the first, with two outs senior catcher Ryan Kowalski reached first safely on a throwing error, setting up Curran for the longest hit of the day. Facing a 1-2 count, Curran blasted Teddy O'Heir's fastball deep to the right-centerfield gap, the ball one-hopping off the fence for a stand-up RBI double.
"I figured he'd throw me a curveball, because I got fooled on that, but he threw me a fastball down the dish," Curran said. "It was literally right down the middle, so I took it and hit it. I came off my front foot a little bit, but I still got a good piece...I looked up and said, 'I gotta go, I gotta start running'."
Coyle plated two more runs in the second for a 3-0 lead. First, senior third baseman Hunter Klugh drew a walk with the bases loaded to send home Cam Dorsey, with one out. In the next at bat, senior centerfielder Robby Robinson hit into a 4-3 putout at first base to score Alec Turner on a sacrifice.
Feehan (7-1, 1-1) got one back in the next stanza on a one-out RBI single from Alex Perry. But they were unable to muster another hit the rest of the way, going down 1-2-3 the final four innings -- including three straight flyouts to Robinson in center in the top of the seventh to end the game.
"We always circle [this game]," Warriors coach Ken Lalli said when asked about the magnitude of this win. "One of us is probably going to win the league, but we always circle these. Feehan is our rivalry, so this is always a big game."
Little Laboring for May: Two factors continually contribute to days like today for May, where he needed just the 76 pitches to go the distance.
For one, May demonstrates surgery with his pitch sequences in at bats. His fastball has been clocked as high as 88 miles per hour so far this spring, and has movement that cuts inside on right-handed hitters. Mixing that in with a slider that moves hard in the opposite direction made for many a quick at-bat this afternoon.
"Donny's one of the smartest pitchers I've ever had the privilege of working with, because he understands about pitch efficiency," Lalli said. "He doesn't waste any pitches at all. Every pitch has a purpose, and that's why he's able to go the whole game all the time at only, like, 76 pitches."
The other major contributing factor is the speed with which he works. At 235 pounds, his legs can carry him deep into games -- "I honestly felt like I could go another three innings today," he quipped -- but he doesn't waste a lot of time on the mound getting ready for the next pitch. Think more Mark Buehrle, less Josh Beckett.
"He likes to get the ball and work," Lalli said. "Sometimes we've got to slow him down a little bit, but he just wants to get it done. He knows what he has to do, he's got a job to do, and he goes right at it. There's no messing around.
"He has great composure, so if the umpire calls it a ball it doesn't affect him. He's already thinking about the next pitch, where most guys would take their time and walk around. Great composure out there."