Boston High School: Devin Santilli

A-B moves on in frustrating affair for Lawrence

June, 11, 2011
LOWELL, Mass. -- Victor Mendez was on in relief for Lawrence High School Friday trying to halt the Acton-Boxborough offense that had taken a two-run lead over the Lancers in the top of the ninth.

With one out in the inning and runners on first and second, Devin Santilli hit a chopper to third which seemed to be the second out of the inning. However, both Mendez and Edwin Brito charged the ball, leaving no one to cover third, making all the runners safe.

It was that kind of a frustrating ending to the Division 1 North baseball tournament for Lawrence. After trading the lead in the eighth inning, A-B earned a 6-3 victory behind a four-run ninth inning.

The Colonials move on to the Division 1 North final Saturday against Lincoln-Sudbury.

Junior Vasquez was almost untouchable on the mound for Lawrence until the later innings. The senior had nine strikeouts in eight innings and rarely found himself in jams until the ninth. Even in the third, when A-B had runners on second and third with two outs, he induced a fly ball, getting his team out of the inning.

While the A-B bats were quiet, it was the defense that changed the momentum of the game. After A-B pitcher Ryan McDonald surrendered two walks to start the sixth inning, he found himself faced with runners on second and third after a botched pickoff attempt at second sent the ball into center, allowing the runners to advance. He was able to bear down and get David Quezada to fly out to first for the first out of the inning.

Then, his infield bailed him out on a Hector Perez grounder to second. A-B coach Patrick Grucela had pulled the infield in, which allowed Billy Jackman to field the ball cleanly and fire it to his catcher Brian Bowler in time to tag out Edwin Brito, making it the second out of the inning. The next batter, Anthony Rodriguez, flied to right, keeping it a two-run game.

“That was huge for us but there was nothing special,” said Grucela. “It was just a baseball play with bringing the infield in and [Jackman] made a heck of a play out of it.”

McDonald felt the momentum gained from that defensive stand helped carry over into the later innings and was part of the reason for his team’s comeback.

“In the next inning we got them to go 1-2-3 and we struck out all three batters and from then on we just had the momentum,” he said.

McDonald pitched 6 2/3innings, recording six strikeouts while surrendering three walks and five hits. It was the kind of outing Grucela was looking for from him after he threw 140 in the team’s 3-0 victory over Lowell earlier in the Division 1 playoffs. He was relieved by Chris Sirois in the seventh inning, who gave up only one run over his 2 1/3 innings of work.

Vasquez got help early when Juan Ventura lead off the game with a triple to left-centerfield. A sacrifice fly by Brito plated the first run of the game for Lawrence, and A-B was immediately fighting from behind.

They tallied another run in the third when Ventura singled home Darwin Brito, who had previously advanced two bases on a failed pickoff move by McDonald sent the ball into right field.

“I gave up those first two runs kind of based on my pitch selection,” said McDonald. “I was throwing mostly fastballs and that team is a great hitting team and I wasn’t aware that they could hit the fastball as well as they could. So around the fourth inning I started using my curveball and off-speed pitches more and that definitely kept them off-balance more and definitely lead to more success for our team.”

The Colonials will look to carry the momentum from Friday into Saturday when it gets back on the field, and this time plays for a championship.

“I definitely think this game carries over [to Saturday],” said McDonald. “Everyone on the team feels confident and right now we’re just going out and playing baseball. We’re taking it one step and having fun.”

No. 8 A-B moves on behind McDonald

June, 2, 2011
ACTON, Mass. -- There was no way Ryan McDonald was coming out of the game.

The junior left-handed pitcher for Acton-Boxborough was determined to finish what he started last night. McDonald did just that, stifling Lowell on just five hits while striking out 10, as the Colonials prevailed 3-0 in the first round of the Division 1 North playoffs.

No. 8 A-B (16-5) moves on to the quarterfinal round when it will face either Lexington, Malden or Westford Academy on Sunday at 4 p.m. at a site to be determined. The ninth-seeded Red Raiders close out their season at 14-7.

McDonald kept the Lowell bats off-balanced throughout with his mix of fastballs and off-speed pitches. In fact, he didn’t allow a Red Raiders to reach third until the seventh frame.

“As a pitcher you’re thinking you want to go as long as you can and give it everything you’ve got,” said McDonald. “I felt great and the adrenaline was flowing. In the beginning I was able to established my off-speed stuff and then as the game progressed I picked it up more with my fastball. I realized over the last couple of innings they weren’t able to catch up to my fastball.”

McDonald was accurate in that statement as he wrapped up this contest by striking out four of the last five batters he faced.

In what was expected to be a low-scoring affair, the Colonials were able to strike first against Red Raider starter R.J. Noel. A single by Jared Tamulynas was followed by a line double to left by McDonald scoring Tamulynas and putting A-B on top 1-0.

The Colonials would add a solo run in the following frame thanks to Chris Murphy’s RBI single which drove in Dana Flood, who had led off the inning with a single.

While Lowell’s puzzlement against McDonald continued, a two-run lead was looking better with each passing inning. In the sixth however the Red Raiders threatened after putting a pair of runners on base. But McDonald was able to get out of the jam without issue.

In the bottom of the inning A-B added some insurance. Brian Bowler and Tamulynas opened with back-to-back walks. A McDonald sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Noel was then pulled in favor of Matt Tulley. Much to the surprise of Red Raiders, Matt Sweet laid down a perfectly-executed suicide squeeze on Tulley’s first delivery allowing Bowler to cross the plate.

“We’re not the type of team that’s going to put up 9 or 10 runs in a game,” said A-B coach Pat Grucela. “We knew we needed to manufacture runs in order to be successful and I was happy with the way we executed tonight. Ryan was a horse for us out there tonight. He got stronger as the game went on.”

In the seventh, Lowell had it best chance to get on the board. With two out and two runners on James Ricoy lofted a pop up in foul territory on the right side of the infield. Gusty wind conditions pushed ball back into fair territory and out of the reach of first baseman Devin Santilli. The ball dropped but Santilli displayed his alertness by throwing out Padriac Donovan out at the plate after a rundown ensued. After that, the Red Raiders were done.

“A lot of it was [McDonald] and some of it was us not being able to execute when we had the opportunities,” Lowell coach Dan Graham said. “On that squeeze play, I was kind of expecting it but just wasn’t expecting it on Matt’s first pitch.”

Maver moving Acton-Boxborough forward

August, 27, 2010
ACTON, Mass. -- Throughout longtime Acton-Boxborough Regional High head coach Bill Maver’s tenure calling plays for the Colonials, he has rarely heard his team dubbed as the biggest or fastest. Maver dismisses those terms because he knows that as long as he has a good group of football players that believes in family, the team will succeed.

"With most of my teams, we'd probably get our butts kicked in a street fight," said Maver about his time at Acton-Boxborough. "But before each game I tell them play hard, play smart, play together and have fun."

That message has bred a lot of success for A-B in the last 25 years. However, the Colonials are coming off of a 6-5 year that most players deemed "disappointing", and the team doesn't have a lot of experience on either sides of the ball.

Sounding a bit cliché, Maver believes that the experience and talents of this team don’t matter in the end.

"Every year is different," said Maver. “You do the best you can with what you’ve got and take it one game at a time.”

Except this year, it appears things are drastically different. Maver — an old school Wing-T proponent — has altered the playbook so quarterback Mike Morris will take snaps in the shotgun while running the offense. The coaches hope that will allow him to get the ball to receivers Wes Schroll and David Immerman on the outside.

Senior co-captain and starting running back Eric Apgar showed plenty of talent last year before his season was cut short due to a fractured pelvis. With the transition of the offense, Apgar has bought into the family attitude at A-B, and doesn’t think the change in playbook is a sleight against him.

"I like the transition," said Apgar. "I won't get the ball as much but it’s fine with me as long as we're winning."

This kind of attitude has rubbed off on Maver's players for years. In fact, players have liked his coaching style so much that he now has six former Colonials on the coaching staff — including two of his own sons.

"It really says a lot about the coaching staff here and tradition at Acton-Boxborough," said Schroll. "The family part of it is awesome and Coach balances the good with the bad."

For right now though, A-B is trying to get back to that winning tradition. With a lot of holes to fill on the offensive and defensive lines, Maver believes his players just need to develop the intangibles.

"We have to get our 'mojo' back," Maver said. "I think we lost that last year. The intensity that we had in practice, and the leadership we saw from all of the kids — not just the captains — I think we lost that and need to get it back."

2009 record: 6-5
Coach: Bill Maver (25 seasons, 200-61-1)
Players to watch: Wes Schroll, Sr., WR/FS, 6-3, 200 lbs.; David Immerman, Sr., WR/DB, 6-0, 190 lbs.; Devin Santilli, Sr., WR/DB, 6-0, 195 lbs.; Rob Gougen, Sr., RB/DB, 6-0, 185 lbs.; Colin Shaughnessy, Sr., OL/DL, 5-7, 195 lbs.; Ethan Dukes, Jr., RB/LB, 6-1, 195 lbs.; Mike Morris, Sr., 6-0, 175 lbs.; Eric Apgar, Sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 200 lbs.
Strengths: Discipline, skill positions
Weaknesses: Lack of size, offensive and defensive lines
Outlook: The Colonials have fast wide receivers and a few talented running backs but will have to sure up the offensive line in the coming weeks. They return one starter on the offense and defensive line combined, so they may be exploited up the middle. Apgar is the lone returning starter from a year ago in the entire defensive front seven. While the team is confident in Morris at quarterback and the speed it has in the defensive backfield, Acton-Boxborough will have a challenge early on in the season as they gain experience in the Dual County League.