Boston High School: Chris Travers

Hendricken (R.I.) on track for another title run

May, 10, 2014
May 10
One day last spring after Bishop Hendricken won its 12th Division I state baseball championship under veteran coach Ed Holloway – the 18th in school history – Holloway was having lunch with five of his players.

Rhode Island“I asked the kids ‘Did you ever think about what it would be like if you lost,” said Holloway who’s been the Hawks’ head coach since 1995. “They looked at me and said ‘Coach. We never gave it a thought.’

“The kids go out and play hard and expect to win. If we win, they’re happy and if we lost and gave it our best shot, fine. They focus on playing hard and playing to win.”

Best shot notwithstanding, the Hawks (9-1 in Division I-North), suffered their first loss on Tuesday when they were defeated, 6-2, by La Salle Academy (8-4).

“I think the kids feel like everybody comes to play hard against us,” Holloway said in an understatement. “It’s not like the teams don’t give it a full effort. They know we’ve been successful and try to knock us off regardless if we’re coming off a state championship year or not.

“Our kids feel like they’re going to get the best from the other team when they step on the field.”

The 2013 season was a typical one for the Hawks in that they captured the division title with an 18-0 record and then annexed their second consecutive state championship.

Experiencing the type of success Hendricken has over the years doesn’t happen just by the players throwing their gloves on the field.

“It starts with we’re very lucky in that we have a lot of good players,” said Holloway. “You need good players to win in any team sport. Those players are very competitive. They work hard. A lot of them concentrate on one sport (i.e. baseball). They start in late fall and work really hard until we start (the regular season).

“The kids really work hard during the off season. Our guys, from winning, they expect to win. They don’t think about losing. We try to keep the kids together and play American Legion ball during the summer.”

Another reason for the Hawks’ run of success can be attributed to what Holloway refers to as “a good feeder system.”

“Our freshman and junior varsity coaches do a good job of getting them ready to play at the varsity level,” said Holloway while referring to head freshman coach Dan Rice plus assistants Chris McDonough, Richard Dubuc and Brian Leahy, who’s been with Holloway since 1996, and head JV coach John Manning plus assistants Rob Manning and Peter Thomas. “They do a good job with the kids. That’s important.”

The same could be said of Holloway’s varsity assistants: Bill Campbell (who works with the pitchers and has been with Holloway since 1995); third base coach Ian Smith; and first base/conditioning coach Chris Sheehan, who was an All-State pitcher in 2009.

“The success of the program is due in large part to all of the coaches preparing the players,” said Holloway.

Arguably more preparation was necessary going into this season than in prior years since Hendricken was hit hard by graduation and returned only three starters: junior third baseman John Toppa (who’s given a verbal commitment to Connecticut), junior catcher Gian Martellini (who’s given a verbal to Vanderbilt) and captain/right fielder Brady Chant.

“We lost Ed Markowski, who was the MVP of the state tournament, which necessitated moving Toppa from left field to third base,” said Holloway. “Dante Baldelli (younger brother of former Hendricken All-Stater and Tampa Bay first-round draft pick Rocco Baldelli) is playing center field and batting fourth or fifth. He’s hitting .556 with 15 RBI.

“John Willette is at shortstop. Ryan Rotundo, who played behind Matt Murphy (who’s at Assumption), is hitting around .480. And Bill Keegan replaced Jarek Krajewski (who’s at Plymouth State) at first base.”

While Hendricken may lack a true ace like Mike King, the 2013 Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year who’s pitching for Boston College, Holloway has three starters who’re doing their best to fill that role. That's fallen to junior Mike McCaffrey, who last spring beat North Kingstown, 7-4, to clinch the state title, senior Anthony Graziano and sophomore Matt Kennedy.

Seniors Chris Travers and Sam Boulanger (who also is a DH) are the primary relievers.

If there’s one Hawk on whom the spotlight shines the brightest, it’s Martellini, who prior to the La Salle game was hitting .519 with 19 RBI.

“He’s a big, strong kid who right now looks like a college player,” said Holloway. “He’s got tremendous arm strength and is a very good batter. Last year was his first year as a catcher. He played third as a freshman. He knew we needed some help at catcher so he came in and caught as a sophomore. We were lucky to win the state championship with him.

“We talked with the Vanderbilt coach about how he has a lot of upside and yet there’s a lot of room for improvement,” continued Holloway. “He’s not a finished product but has a lot of potential.”

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

DePippo hurls Apponequet to first sectional title

June, 15, 2011
QUINCY, Mass. -- Top-seeded Middleborough entered Tuesday’s Division 3-South championship game against No. 6 Apponequet having scored a “grand” total of eight runs in its previous three tournament games.

That total remained at eight after Lakers lefty Dan DePippo tossed a masterpiece, blanking the Sachems, 1-0, on three hits for the first baseball sectional title in school history.

How effective was DePippo?

Check this out:
  • He allowed only three hits, each of which was a single.
  • He issued zero walks and struck out seven.
  • He threw 70 of 106 pitches for strikes which computed to 66 percent.
  • One hit was of the infield variety, by Luke Zulak.
  • He faced only three batters over the minimum, with one Sachem reaching on an error.

Other than that …

“His control was a big factor,” Apponequet coach Bob Lomp said. “He’s very economical. When you’re a strikeout pitcher, you’re going to throw a lot of pitches. To be economical and get a lot of strikes like he did today … well, that was a gutsy performance especially on three days’ rest.”

Middleboro lefty Nick Radcliffe also delivered a commendable performance. In fact, he was working on a no-hitter for 4 2/3 innings before Josh Cabucio singled in the fifth.

“Nick pitched a great ballgame,” coach Bill Lawrence said. “They just put a couple of hits together and we didn’t.

“If you don’t score runs, you’re not going to win any games.”

Apponequet (16-4) finally hung a run on the Adams Field board in the sixth. But only after Middleborough (20-4) flashed some serious leather.

Shortstop Zulak ranged far to his right, speared a shot by Matt Schell and threw to first for the out.

Then, Nick Cogliano hit a sinking liner to center only to have Chris Benson make a spectacular, diving catch.

But Chris Travers and DiPippo followed with singles and Nate Michael launched a 1-and-2 pitch to center for an RBI double.

“Nate’s been clutch for us all year in that five-spot,” Lomp said. “Nate didn’t look pretty on those two swings and misses. But that’s classic Nate. He’ll swing at everything and then he hammers one.

“The ball wasn’t traveling today so even when it was in the air I thought their center fielder was going to have a chance. But it was deep enough to get the run in. With a pitching performance like that from both sides, one run is going to do it.”

Given DePippo’s performance, Lomp was right on target.

“He’s a big kid and he’s very strong,” Lomp said. “He runs a lot between starts. We had him on pitch counts so tight early in April and May to get him to this point. We would take him out mid-inning sometimes in a game where he was ahead just because we wanted to build him up for the tournament run.

“That was the goal all year … to have Danny healthy for the tournament. He really came up big in the last two innings.”

How big?

This big: DePippo struck out five Sachems overs those last two frames, which enabled him to up his season record to 8-1 and his two-year career mark to 16-2.

Despite all the Sachems accomplished this season, the loss was particularly hard for Lawrence to swallow.

“We had a good season,” he said. “I’m not going to dwell on anything negative. The worst thing about this is this is probably one of my favorite teams and I don’t want to let go of them. They’re just good kids.

“[Apponequet] outplayed us today. That was the bottom line. It was a well-played game on both sides. This time of year you expect good teams to play well.”