Boston High School: John Myette

D2 Baseball: Plymouth North 12, Oliver Ames 3

June, 9, 2012
Alex RozakBrendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comUMass-bound righty Alex Rozak earned the 23rd win of his career at Plymouth North on Friday afternoon, and the defending state champs clinched their fifth straight D2 South Final appearance.
PLYMOUTH, Mass. -- Alex Rozak watched as the game's second batter, Dave McKinnon, took his fastball deep over the fences at Siever Field, to give visiting Oliver Ames a quick 2-0 lead over his Plymouth North squad.

Some pitchers might sweat after an early sequence like that. Rozak merely sighs.

Of course, it helps when the bats behind you plate a dozen runs two stanzas later. The UMass-bound senior righty and ace of the Blue Eagles' staff locked up the 23rd win of his high school career with the aid of a 12-run second inning, as they cruised to an easy 12-3 win over the Tigers (14-9) to make this their fifth consecutive trip to the Division 2 South Finals.

Rozak, the winning pitcher in last year's Division 2 state championship (North's second title in four years), is once again getting hot at the right time and taking command of the Eagles' (16-7) staff. This afternoon, he struck out six while allowing four hits and walking two; all three runs allowed were earned.

"Give him the ball and he battles," Eagles head coach Dwayne Follette said. "I thought he might of lost a little composure there when [Sullivan] took him deep, but he fought right back. They're very good 1 through 6, and we said keep the leadoff hitter off. I think he got rattled after he walked that kid [leadoff hitter Jim Sullivan] on 3-2 [first inning], but after that he settled down and dominated.

Follette added, "He got his splitter going today, I don't know if you guys noticed that. He looked great getting them to strike out on balls in the dirt. And really, that's the best he's thrown that pitch all year. When you're tired, you've got to go to something else, right? You're not going to blow everyone away with your fastball, especially at this level."

Rozak was noticeably confident in the pitch today, and it showed.

"Early in the game, the fastball wasn't really established -- I don't know why, maybe I wasn't warmed up enough," Rozak said. "So we started working the curveball in, and that wasn't working as best as it could, so we tried the splitter, and that was just on. So you kinda build off that and work backwards, instead of establishing the fastball first."

Bats Come Alive: For as long as Follette has been in charge, the Eagles have always hit the ball well. But this year's squad is a far cry from last year's row of mashers, led by ESPN Boston All-State catcher and Frankin Pierce freshman Matt Walsh (who is also suiting up for the Cape Cod League's Wareham Gatemen this summer).

As mentioned above, the Eagles plated all of their runs in a 16-at bat second inning, led by two-run singles each from Vinny Tavernelli, David Murphy and John Myette (3 RBI). But just like in their D2 South quarterfinal win over Dennis-Yarmouth, the runs were manufactured.

"We're fast and athletic," Follette said. "We've had six home runs all year, [whereas] most of our guys had six home runs on their own last year. We're totally different, but the kids are playing...I don't know what to say. I knew we could do it, but I'm thrilled to be here, to be honest with you."

Home field advantage: These two teams were supposed to play yesterday at Brockton's Campanelli Stadium. But when a rainstorm flooded the infield dirt making the field unplayable, and with the Brockton Rox set to play there tomorrow night, MIAA South Tournament Director Don Fredericks flipped a coin to decide on the host venue.

And you had to have the feeling once the coin landed in North's favor, sending this game to Siever, that this was going to be a tough one for the Tigers. It's not uncommon to see a packed bowl of stands circling behind the backstop from the first to third baselines, nor a packed row of parked cars on both sides stretching from one end of Liberty Street to the other, and all the other roads running parallel. Heck, today there were cars nestled near the Cazeault Roofing parking lot more a half mile away.

And the fans, some bare-chested with face paint, always seem to bring it. The crowd played a factor in last year's run to the state title; and with a well-traveling crowd heading to neutral sites from herein, it could once again be momentous.

"Coach didn't tell us anything yesterday other than 'See you here tomorrow', and we were fired up," Rozak said. "We thought our last home game [a first-round win over Stoughton] was the last game I'd ever play at Siever, so to be able to play here again was huge."

Plymouth North downs D-Y, clinches ACL share

May, 12, 2011
SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. -- Alex Rozak came in to close the deal in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, on just two days rest -- and at that, six-plus innings of extended relief -- and immediately ran into trouble. But with two men on, the junior righty caught the Dennis-Yarmouth batter looking on a third strike, opening a joyous emptying of the dugout and a pat on the back from his head coach.

With Rozak's save and a strong 6-2/3 innings from lefty Jake Stearns, the Eagles clinched at least a share of the Atlantic Coast League title once again by holding off upstart host Dennis-Yarmouth, 4-3, at Wilson Field.

North (13-1, 9-1) can clinch the ACL outright at home Monday against Sandwich, while D-Y fell to 8-5 and 5-4 in the league.

"I never should have pitched him [today], but you know, that's for the league title," Eagles head coach Dwayne Follette said of Rozak, who struck out eight batters in 6-2/3 innings of relief in a 14-5 win over Marshfield Monday. "That's a good win."

Pinch-runner Ryan Moskos came on for Dave Murphy in the top of the sixth inning, and scored from first base with two outs to plate the winning run for the Eagles. Doug Maccaferri flied out deep to right field, sending the speedy soccer star from first on a tag-up. Moskos slid head-first into third, but the throw from the rightfielder was overthrown, sending him home standing up.

Matt Walsh tried to give the Eagles an insurance run in the seventh, blasting one to the left field wall for a stand-up double before getting tagged out at home to end the inning. Stearns fanned the first two batters of the final stanza swinging, but walked the next one, prompting Follette to call in Rozak on short rest for the save.

Stearns finished the day striking out eight, allowing five hits and walking two, to pick up the win.

"I knew once we got that run, we get ahead and we've got Alex and our ace," Walsh said. "Big chance for us to get the ACL right there, so I knew my double would help us get it done."

The Eagles plated three runs in the top of the first, the first run coming when Zach Zaniboni raced home after Walsh's grounder wasn't fielded safely. Walsh and Mike Cahill then came home on a John Myette single to make it 3-0.

But the Dolphins responded two innings later to knot it at three. Brendan Sullivan reached on an error by the second baseman, allowing his brother Cody to reach home safely for the 3-3 score.

After the rally, D-Y managed just two hits over the final four innings.

"They're the best team in Division 2, and we've played them two games in a row toe-to-toe," D-Y head coach Paul Funk said. "I think we just made more mistakes. We made a couple of mistakes that we've got to clean up on. But I'll tell you, we gutted it out. The pitcher we had going [Justin Thomson], he gutted it out for us."