Boston High School: Justin Silvestro

Recap: No. 13 Lowell 4, No. 7 BC High 2

May, 18, 2012

LOWELL, Mass. -- It is a known fact that big-time pitchers are usually at their best in big-game situations.

Lowell High’s Matt Tulley certainly falls into that classification of big-time pitcher. Tonight the senior righty showed why, as he surrendered just four hits while striking out 11 in a complete game 4-2 non-league victory effort over BC High at Alumni Field.

“I knew this was the most-anticipated game of the year for us,” said Tulley, who will play for Virginia Tech next season. “I was just very excited to play. Coach (Danny) Graham told me about a pitcher from this area named Jeff Allison (who played at Peabody High and was a first-round pick of the Florida Marlins) and how gritty a player he was and I just tried to follow that.

"Warming up in the bullpen I didn't feel that good. I don't know what it was but I wasn't to worried about it. I just knew I had to zone in more and get focused. Once I got out there I felt great.”

Tulley mixed his fastball and cutter with a knee-buckling curve, which proved to be his most effective pitch of the evening as it kept Eagles (13-5) off-balanced throughout.

“We had chances but let to many opportunities go by,” BC High coach Norm Walsh said. “(Tulley) is obviously one of the top 4-5 guys we’ve seen all year. Him changing speeds on his breaking ball was the biggest thing. It wasn't so much the fastball but the ability for him to change speeds on the breaking ball. He competes. That’s what you want to see out of your pitchers -- to be aggressive and go after hitters like he did tonight.”

With the contest tied 2-2 through 5 1/2 innings, the Red Raiders (13-3) put this one to rest in their half of the sixth. With John Arens in relief of starter Trent Berg (5 IP, 2 runs, 7 hits, 4 Ks) on the mound, Lowell’s Roger Roman opened the frame with a single. After advancing to second on Matt Cassella’s well-executed sacrifice bunt, the senior eventually came around to score the go-ahead run on a Chad Gens fielder’s choice. The Red Raiders added another run moments later on a Tulley (2 hits, 2 RBI) single to left that scored Mike Hart, who walked.

“We knew it was going to be a good game,” Graham said. “It was a great performance by Matt, and he was very gutsy right to the end. Credit our kids. This one was fun to watch. (BC High) is a helluva team and they compete hard. You could see at the end of the game how meaningful it was to beat a program like BC High. Anytime you win it’s great but when you beat a quality team it’s even better. Our kids were definitely up for the challenge.”

The Red Raiders looked to put this contest away in their half of the first after loading the bases with no out. But Berg, who also used his 12-to-6 curveball with authority, pitched his way out of trouble by striking out Tulley and R.J. Noel before inducing Derek Reed to fly out. Walking the proverbial tightrope much of the evening, Berg, a junior, failed to escape trouble in the third.

Back-to-back singles by R.J. Gray and Gens started things. A Tulley sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. After Berg set Noel with a strike out, Reed next singled to plate Gray with Lowell’s first run.

The Eagles tied it up in the fifth. Rich Roach opened with a double to left, took third on a deep fly out by Chuckie Connors and sprinted home on a wild pitch. Lowell got that run back its half of the fifth. Gens singled, stole second and came around to score on Tulley’s double down the left field line which short-hopped over the glove of third baseman Justin Silvestro making it 2-1.

Showing great resiliency, the Eagles answered back to begin the sixth. Bobby Melley blasted a triple to right and scored moments later on a passed ball to deadlock this tilt yet again, 2-2.

But on this night, the Red Raiders simply had too much firepower offensively and it showed in the bottom of the frame after taking a two-run advantage. With Tulley in full command on the hill, that would prove to be more than enough run support for him to secure the win.

“We put some pressure on them,” said Walsh. “When we kept it on them we scored but we just didn’t get it done as often as we needed to do it.”

Recap: No. 4 St. John's (S) 5, No. 1 BC High 2

May, 11, 2012
SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- Although they never displayed it openly, you knew to a player that St. John’s had Friday’s return match against BC High circled several times on its calendar.

The Pioneers were beaten handedly by the Eagles in Dorchester last month and were chomping at for a redemption shot. Jumping out to a 3-0 lead after one inning, St. John’s did precisely what it set out the do having turned the tables en route to a 5-2 non-league victory at Pioneer Field.

“We have taken every team we've played just as serious as this game today,” said Pioneer third baseman Owen Shea, who contributed a pair of RBIs in the victory. “Yesterday after our game against Burncoat, we talked and made sure that all of us were ready for this one today. We came out hard early and managed to get the win. It's great.”

With Advanced Placement testing taking place this week, BC High coach Norm Walsh did not have a full unit to begin the game. Those players who were testing arrived just before first pitch. That being the case, Walsh had to maneuver his lineup some and had to use a junior varsity pitcher (Sam Telman) on the hill.

St. John’s (14-2) wasted little time getting to Telman, a righty. Tom Petry led off the Pioneer first with a double. Two outs later, Shea followed with a wind-blown double to right scoring Petry. Shea took third on the play after Eagle third baseman Justin Silvestro, taking the cutoff throw, fired home trying to nail Petry but the ball sailed on catcher Bobby Melley hitting the backstop. Moments later Scott Manea belted a double to center plating Shea with the Pioneers’ second run.

Telman woes would continue. Following Manea's hit, Jake Byrne next smacked a single to left scoring Manea with St. John’s third run.

“They took advantage of my JV guy,” said Walsh, his club falling to 12-3. “We could have bailed him out I think with some better play in the outfield. It was tough, wind conditions today and the balls were hit pretty hard. Them scoring three in the first was certainly the difference today.”

Pioneer starter Ben White, despite playing with a stomach virus, was holding the Eagles in check over the first three frames, issuing no hits. But in the fourth, BC High (which defeated the Pioneers 11-5 three weeks ago for St. John's last loss) started to make some noise against the junior righthander.

With one out, Chuckie Connors reached on a Petry error at shortstop. White then struck out Silvestro but couldn’t escape the power of Brian Hocking. The senior roped an 0-1 pitch over the left field fence to bring the Eagles back to within a run. Following the blast, BC High proceeded to load the bases but White (4-0) avoided further damage by striking out Rich Roach.

Following the gutty fourth, White’s day was done. Senior Anthony Perry took over and it was up to him to maintain the lead. The lefty pitched was flawless in his three innings of work, surrendering just one hit.

In between, St. John’s was able to tack on a couple of more runs on Perry's behalf. In the fifth, consecutive singles by Jimmy Smith, Nick Sieber and Shea produced the Pioneers’ fourth run. In the sixth they added one more on a Micah Cummins home run off of reliever Bartley Regan.

“Scoring early really helped us,” St. John’s coach Charlie Eppinger said. “We know BC High has an amazing lineup and I give Ben White and Anthony Perry a tremendous amount of credit. Our catcher Scott Manea called a great game and kept their hitter off-balanced throughout. Our kids really wanted this one today. It’s a great win against a great, well-coached program.”

Roundtable: Is Milford the new D1 softball favorite?

April, 20, 2012
In this week's edition of "Roundtable", ESPN Boston High Schools Editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall are joined by correspondent Bruce Lerch and Brockton Enterprise staff writer John Botelho as we discuss the best hitting lineups, the best faceoff specialist in lacrosse, and whether Milford is now the team to beat in softball.


ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Scott Barboza: In a word, yes. Shannon Smith is simply pitching out of her mind right now, but it's not as though we haven't seen this before from the University of Kentucky commit. Two years ago, Smith was named Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year after recording a 0.36 ERA. This year, she's been dominant, including a 20-strikeout performance against Shrewsbury and 17 K's against KP. Not to mention, the Scarlet Hawks haven't even been playing with their opening day lineup, after All-State catcher Taylor Archer suffered a leg injury in the first week of the season. Freshman Taylor LeBrun has done a terrific job behind the plate in the interim, but MIlford will only be that much more potent with their top battery in place. I'm certainly not ruling out KP, as anything short of a rematch between the two teams in the state final would be unexpected.

Bruce Lerch, correspondent: While there are several teams with good enough pitching to shut down the Scarlet Hawks bats, how many are strong enough offensively to hit against Milford ace Shannon Smith? The only team that really comes to mind is...King Philip. The Kentucky-bound Smith two-hit the Warriors and struck out 17 Monday afternoon, so you have to think they are the lead horse in the race right now. KP has hit Smith before, however, as a 10-1 result in the state championship game two years ago proves. Of course, Smith was but a freshman then, and having faced King Philip several times since then her knowledge of that dangerous lineup has grown considerably.

Oh yeah...KP also has Meghan Rico. I've heard she's a pretty good pitcher too...something about a reigning player of the year? If both aces are on their game, then the state championship softball game may have to be scheduled for more than one day

John Botelho, Brockton Enterprise: Even with Milford knocking off K-P, it's still hard to call anyone but the Warriors - the two-time defending state champ - the favorite to win it all. This means Milford might have closed the gap, but until someone proves Meghan Rico is possible to beat in the playoffs, the Warriors remain the class of softball in this state. Keep in mind how difficult it is to beat a good team twice, and chances are Milford will have to do just that if they're to bring home the state crown.


Scott Barboza: We might have seen a Division 2 Eastern Mass final matchup preview on Thursday when Concord-Carlisle and Hingham squared off in a Coaches Challenge Cup semifinal. The Patriots beat the Harbormen, 9-4, with Jackson Finigan, Tim Badgley and Kevin Delehey scoring two goals each. If both teams take care of business hereon out, we should expect to see both of them at Harvard Stadium. Of course, none of this makes mention of Dover-Sherborn. The Raiders fell just short of an upset over Lincoln-Sudbury before falling, 12-11, but they've proven their among the elite in Division 3.

Bruce Lerch: That team would Dover-Sherborn. Lincoln-Sudbury will enter the Division 1 tournament as one of the teams best suited to make a run at Duxbury, but betting against the Dragons has been mostly a losing proposition for the past decade. The six Div. 2 teams that participated in the tournament are perennially among the last teams standing in June, so while a state champion could come from this group, picking who it will be requires a crystal ball.

Dover-Sherborn has the talent to compete with the best teams in the state, something the Raiders proved three years running now at the Coaches Challenge Cup, and is likely going to snag one of the top four seeds in the Div. 3 tourney and will be included in the group of favorites that should also include Weston and Norwell.


ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Brendan Hall: I have seen both BC High and Lowell multiple times, and I don't think you can go wrong either way.

BC High can mash 1 through 9, but at the top is where they're especially dangerous. UConn signee Bob Melley is the Eagles' most powerful bat out of the No. 3 spot, but he's surrounded by plenty of college-ready talent in seniors Chuckie Connors, Justin Silvestro, Brian Hocking, and juniors Ryan Tufts and Dan Dougherty. I will put the Eagles' top six hitters against any team's top six in the state...

...Unless that top six is Lowell. The Red Raiders are only going to get stronger as the season goes on, but they're showing some real nice stuff through the first three weeks of the season. Rory O'Connor, Derek Reed and Andrew Marasa form what is regarded as the state's best outfield, but they can manufacture runs from the plate, too. Matt Tulley is headed to Virginia Tech for his low-90's fastball, but he's got a heavy swing from the cleanup spot too. My favorite hitter to watch in this lineup is senior Chad Gens, who can square up and plant it deep as good as anyone. After Lexington's Chris Shaw, he might be one of the better power hitters in Eastern Mass. I expect him to be near the top in extra base hits this year.

Also of note, take a look at Dighton-Rehoboth, which comes in this week at No. 18 this week. With a top of the order led by Bryan Rocha, Adam Benvie, Evan Mondor and Mike St. John, the Falcons are averaging 11 runs per game, including shellackings over Somerset (22-0) and Case (17-6). When it comes to manufacturing runs, you can't forget Walpole, between leadoff shortstop Johnny Adams, catcher Dan King, and brothers Cam and Craig Hanley.

John Botelho: Despite getting shutout by Marshfield for their first loss of the season on Thursday, the East Bridgewater Vikings offense is certainly among the best in southeastern Mass, and could be the class of the D3 South Sectional later this season. Even with the setback against the Rams, E-B is still averaging just over 10 runs per game.

In the Hockomock League both Oliver Ames has emerged as a team with an electric pitching staff, but the offense is plenty capable of flexing muscle too. With sweet swinging David MacKinnon - whose emerging as one of the best hitters in the Hock - hitting third and powerful Matt Harding hitting fourth, the Tigers have one of the best 3-4 combos going. Matt Mancini, Ryan O'Shea, Mike McMillan and Jim Sullivan help bolster a lineup that features plenty of hitting ability.


Scott Barboza: I think there's no doubt that Clay Richard of Medfield is the best true FOGO in the state, but as we saw during Wednesday's matchup against No. 1 Duxbury, Dragons midfielder Henry Narlee might be the best faceoff man in the state. Sqauring off against Richard and the Warriors, Narlee won an amazing 21 of 28 draws.

Bruce Lerch: The two best were on display Wednesday night in Duxbury as Medfield's Clay Richard went to work against the Dragons Henry Narlee. Richard more than held his own against Narlee in their individual battle, but in addition to the Duxbury junior's elite skill, he also has the advantage of having James Burke and Reilly Naton flying off the wings to grab every loose ball in sight. Not only is Narlee at winning the draws to himself, but is deadly accurate when shooting the ball into space for his two LSM's to chase it down.


Scott Barboza: Don't really know if this would count as such, but I'm calling Duxbury's take down of Garden City (N.Y.) this weekend. Looks like the Dragons' regained their top form in the last week. In softball, I have a feeling about Hudson taking down Shrewsbury this weekend.

Brendan Hall: Boston Latin has a two-game swing at the beginning of next month that could have big implications in the Dual County League: May 4 at Lincoln-Sudbury, and May 7 at Acton-Boxborough. The Wolfpack seem to be everyone's favorite little underdog in the league (no pun intended), but I wouldn't be surprised to see them take one of two here. L-S has some talent, but has been searching for that staff ace; meanwhile A-B has had a knack for the dramatic so far, twice winning one-run games, the latest a 1-0 decision over Waltham on Wednesday. Can Latin pull 1 of 2 here? It might depend on who's pitching.

Elsewhere, I've got May 10's matchup between No. 14 Burncoat and No. 3 St. John's of Shrewsbury circled on the calendar. The Patriots just lost their first game to Danvers the other day, while St. John's sits at 7-0 with a nice win over St. John's Prep. This is building into one of the best regular-season matchups in Central Mass., but I'm going to go with Burncoat in the upset.

John Botelho: On April 26, when No. 16 Barnstable comes to town, Bridgewater-Raynham will take a big step toward winning the Old Colony League by knocking them off in a pitcher's duel. The Trojans have to deal with league foe Dartmouth just two days before, and if the rotation stays the path it's on lefty Pat Chalmers will be throwing that game. That means fellow southpaw Shane Holmes, who has been piling up strikeouts and shutting offenses down, will take the mound against the Red Raiders. The lefty is one of the toughest in the area and B-R could come away with this one without needing much in the way of run support.

Lowell capitalizes on miscues to beat BC High

May, 14, 2011
DORCHESTER, Mass. -- Lowell’s Matt Tulley found himself in a jam in the first inning of his team’s game against BC High Saturday. After walking two of the first four batters he faced, BC High was threatening to get on the board with runners on the corners and two outs.

On the first pitch to Justin Silvestro, Bob Sabatino tried stealing second to put two runners in scoring position. However, instead of throwing down to second or ignoring the runner altogether, Lowell catcher Padraic Donovan threw to third, where he caught Dan Dougherty too far off the bag, getting the third out of the inning and getting his pitcher out of a jam.

It was that kind of an afternoon for the Eagles. Lowell capitalized on almost every error they made, both physical and mental ,and came away with an 8-1 victory. Its offense gave it the lead, and its defense held it.

“Every time we come to play we can be the best team in the state I think,” said Tulley, who was 2-for-4 at the plate. “We just have to bring it every day and sometimes we don’t.”

Luke Barkowski was holding his own on the mound for BC High (9-5) through the first 1.2 innings, until he hit R.J. Noel on the arm with a pitch. James Ricoy, the next batter up and No. 7 hitter in the Lowell (10-5) lineup, hit a double to the gap in right-center to plate Noel. The ensuing walk to Donovan put runners on first and second with two outs. Kyle Edwards hit a grounder to second that normally would end the inning, but not Saturday. The second baseman misplayed the ball, making all runners safe and allowing Noel to score.

Momentum seemed to be shifting in BC High’s direction in the third when Mike O’Donnell relieved Tulley, who recorded three strikeouts, two walks, and no hits over his two innings of work. O’Donnell appeared to have trouble with his location, walked two batters on eight pitches, and was removed after one-third of an inning. However, the Eagles could not capitalize, and left both runners stranded.

It surprised some when Tulley was removed from the game after two innings, given how well he was pitching. Coach Dan Graham said he was just conserving his ace for later in the season.

“If anything, Matt was only going to go three tops, and that was if he was super efficient,” Graham said. “Big picture is that we’re trying to win a league championship and already qualified for the state tournament, and we have a game Friday. He was pitching on four days rest, so I wasn’t going to ask him to do too much for us today. He has to get ready for his next start.”

In the fourth, Edwards took over on the mound for Lowell. He surrendered the first three BC High hits, but the team still had trouble getting on the scoreboard. With one out in the fifth, Edwards had given up a hit and two walks to load the bases. Silvestro hit a line drive into right that it appeared would get at least one run home.

However, Ricoy was able to make a running catch coming towards the infield for the second out of the inning. Sean Duggan, the runner on third, had assumed the ball was going to drop in for a hit, so he was halfway to home. When he saw the ball was caught, he had to go back to third to tag-up, but by then, Ricoy had thrown the ball back in, making Duggan stay at third.

The only BC High run came later when Edwards walked Jake Ohanesian, forcing home a run.

Barkowski kept Lowell off the board through his last three innings and gave way to Jack Higgins in the seventh, hoping he could keep the score at 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh. The Raider bats exploded in the inning however, putting up five runs to give the team an almost insurmountable lead.

“He gave us fastballs in two-strike counts,” said Graham. “I thought the guys just did a good job of bearing down when they were in counts where they had two strikes on them. I think for the most part they put balls in play and made things happen.”

Murray's resolve, Ohanesian's bat take down No. 1 CM

April, 25, 2011

WEST ROXBURY, Mass. -- One by one, the radar guns of the half-dozen major league scouts behind the backstop at Catholic Memorial's baseball field clicked with each toss by the Knights' Boston College-bound potential draft pick, senior righthander John Gorman. And when the side had retired, and Boston College High's Don Murray took to the hill, the guns went right back into their bags.

"Their arms probably got tired," cracked the senior righthander.

Their eyes were no doubt satisfied, having seen Gorman two-hit the Eagles through eight innings, fanning 12 and allowing one earned run in nearly 130 pitches, with a fastball touching 85 to 89 miles per hour with regularity. But just as stifling was the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Murray; he silenced the middle of the No. 1 Knights' order, giving way to Jake Ohanesian's heroics in the top of the ninth, as the Eagles downed their Catholic Conference archrivals, 3-1.

BC High improved to 5-1, while CM lost its first game of the season and fell to 6-1.

It was another solid outing for the senior Murray, who has now fanned 20 batters in the last 14 innings. He struck out 12 in an April 11 win over Malden Catholic; in both games, he threw more than 120 pitches.

"Donny throwing an amazing game definitely keeps us in it," Ohanesian said of Murray, who allowed four hits and a run. "Throwing eight innings out there, well over 100 pitches, that kid just stays out there and battles. That definitely...having a great starting pitcher, definitely gives us that boost."

And in the top of the ninth, the 5-foot-8 outfielder made good on that boost with a frozen rope through the far left that just squeaked fair. Paul Fahey came on in relief of Gorman to start the inning, sending the senior to third; his first batter, Bobby Melley, smacked a 1-2 pitch to shallow left that just brisked the webbing of Gorman's webbing.

Two at bats later, with one out, junior Justin Silvestro was the beneficiary of a close call, as he appeared to have come far enough around on his swing for a third strike, but was ruled hit by a pitch. After some protest, Silvestro was awarded first base.

The very next at bat, Ohanesian hit a rocket, turning it into a double and clearing the bases for the 3-1 lead.

"I was hoping it wouldn't go foul, because it landed right on the line," Ohanesian smiled. "I was just praying the ball would bounce and stay fair."

Sophomore Ryan Tufts then came on in the bottom of the ninth in relief of Murray. The Knights put a man on second with a double, but were unable to complete the rally, to give Tufts the win.

And so while another solid Gorman effort came down as a no-decision, there was no shortage of praise all around for the Knights' ace. All afternoon, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Norwood resident kept the Eagles hitters on their toes by mixing in his clever curve with his high-80's fastball, alternately jamming righties and making lefties reach -- and vice-versa.

"That kid just picks corners like it's his job," Ohanesian said of Gorman. "Awesome, awesome knuckle-curve. Outside corners, he's just good at picking there, and umpires these days give you a couple inches but he's spot-on almost every time. The thing with his curveball, that's a hard one you've got to fight off, and you can't give up on it or he'll ring you up easy."

Said CM head coach Hal Carey, "He's just a very good high school pitcher, who's going to be a good college pitcher. He works fast, throws strikes, has command of more than one pitch. That's a good hitting team he faced, and to hold them to three or four hits, whatever they got, and one run off him, is a great job."