Boston High School: Kevin Igoe

Recap: Norwood 3, No. 6 Newton North 2

May, 23, 2013

NEWTON, Mass. -- As Anthony Delmonaco approached a pod of reporters, he looked down at the tape recorders and said, “Sorry guys, I'm not really that good under pressure.”

He couldn't keep a straight face.

With two strikes and two outs in the top of the ninth inning, the Norwood High School senior hit a two-RBI shot to left field to give the Mustangs (15-4) a 3-2 lead over No. 6 Newton North (16-3). Norwood ace Joey Rydzewski finished the job and retired the Tigers in order for a complete-game victory.

Delmonaco, who sat on the bench for most of the game, also had an RBI in his first pinch-hit at bat during the top of the seventh inning.

“It's tough to sit on the bench for six innings, and then, when I call on you, go have three RBI. He's got that right mentality,” said Norwood head coach Kevin Igoe. “He should be starting, but there's only nine spots. When we called on him, he delivered. That's something he can take with him the rest of his life.”

After watching Newton North's Brendan Ryan pitch, Delmonaco knew he would have to wade through a series of looping off-speed pitches. He decided to sit and wait for a hittable fastball. With the game on the line, he got one.

“He had a good deuce, so when it was 2-2 I was looking fastball, and he gave me one. I was able to get a good piece of it, and it went over the shortstop's head,” he said. “It felt great. It's a great feeling.”

Rydzewski, Norwood's reliable righty, took a little while to get into a groove. During the first inning, the junior gave up two runs on a walk and four hits. He saw eight batters in the inning, but was able to strand two runners when he forced Newton North's Philip Biancuzo to pop out to deep center.

After the first inning, Rydzewski struck out eight batters and used increasing velocity on his fastball to keep the Tigers on their heels.

“It's tough playing on the road. You've got a long bus ride through traffic, and everyone's is sitting there,” Igoe said. “Then you have 20 minutes to get loose. We tried to get him as ready as we could, and he's a horse. He could have gone two more innings.”

Newton North head coach Joe Siciliano, who is gearing his team up for a run in the tournament, said the game was a great learning tool.

“That was a great high school game –- no errors. They just battled and made pitches, both pitchers did. We were one strike away, and that thing drops in. We're just hoping for breaks like this when the tournament comes around,” he said. “I'm not taking anything away from them. That's a good team. It will be fun if we face each other in the tournament, but that's far away still.”

Moving on Up: Norwood is in the midst of one of its best seasons in recent memory. The Mustangs have relied on their senior-laden roster to rise to the top of the Bay State Conference's Herget Division.

While Igoe said the team has made adjustments throughout the season, it's the guys on the field who have made the difference.

“We've got a great coaching staff. These guys battled back. We just kind of point them in the right direction. We got off course, and now we're heading in the right direction,” he said.

The Mustangs have spent most of the season chasing No. 4 Walpole High for division's top spot. However, Igoe isn't doing much scoreboard watching –- he just wants his team to concentrate on winning.

“Every game we go out there we expect to win, and we recognize that that probably won't happen, but we go out there and expect to win every game,” he said. “We don't worry about Walpole. We worry about getting the job done between the lines, and whatever happens, happens.”

Siciliano, whose Tigers are looking to claim the Bay State Conference's Carey Division title, said it's about time the Mustangs get their due.

“When is someone going to rank those guys?” he said. “That's one of the top 25 teams in the state. When is someone going to rank them?"

Almost Perfect: After Norwood boarded its bus to go home, and most Newton North players left the field, Ryan sat on the bleachers behind the Tigers' bench – head down – and iced his tired pitching arm.

The senior, who came into the day with a perfect 7-0 record, had just recorded his first loss.

Ryan was lights-out for the first six innings and used a combination of pitches to keep Norwood off-balanced. Until Delmonaco's seventh-inning RBI, Ryan had not faced more than four batters in an inning.

“He's done that all year. He was 7-0 coming into the game, and he was one strike away from going 8-0. He made some great pitches. You can tell what kind of player he is,” Siciliano said. “If I even went over to that line to take him out ... no, that wasn't going to happen.”

Recap: Norwood 2, No. 4 Walpole 1

May, 21, 2013

NORWOOD, Mass. –- Norwood’s one-run loss to archrival Walpole (16-2) on April 26 left Kenny Michael with a bad taste in his mouth. Under the lights at Balch Elementary School on Monday night, he was a man on a mission—driving in both of Norwood’s (14-4) runs and pitching a complete game four-hitter to carry the Mustangs to a 2-1 victory in front of a packed crowd.

Michael doubled in the top of the first inning to bring Rourke Flynn around to score. In the fourth inning, he smashed a home run over the fence in left-center field. Norwood didn’t score another run the rest of the game, and they didn’t need it—Michael finished the job with his performance on the mound, totaling 11 strikeouts.

“Last time we were in Walpole they got me. I was looking for redemption tonight,” Michael said.

Walpole lefthander Mike Gaughan got the start on the mound for the Rebels, pitching eight innings with 11 K’s of his own.

"Two great pitchers, Gaughan is top in our league, as is Kenny," Norwood coach Kevin Igoe said. "[It was] two of the best teams battling it out. Good Baseball, good defense--we’re pretty happy."

Igoe praised his senior star after the game. Michael, who will play ball at Division 2 power Southern New Hampshire University starting this coming fall, played his best baseball in front of a big hometown crowd and under bright lights. Michael didn’t give up a hit until the sixth inning -- an inning when he gave up two hits and walked a batter without giving up a run.

"This is his third year of varsity--his heartbeat stays level," Igoe said of Michael. "He’s everything to us: shortstop, on the mound, you saw him hit that ball into the net--we go as he goes."

Michael saw a similar jam in the eighth inning, where one Walpole run crossed the plate. Johnny Adams stole second base and advanced to third after a base he hit a single that drove in Bobby Ivatts. Adams never had a chance to score though—Michael recorded three outs in order to get out of the jam.

"I was just trying to come out with everything I had," Michael said. "I wasn’t trying to pick corners, although I did sometimes tonight pretty well. I wasn’t trying to go around anyone...I was just trying to go in at everyone in the zone. Fortunately for me that didn’t get a lot of solid pieces off my pitches—a lot of strikes and I’m very happy with how I performed on the mound."

Added Walpole coach Bill Tompkins, "Kenny Michael was the star of the game. He was a bulldog on the mound and he was tough with men on base."

Gaughan, who will attend a Division 2 powerhouse as well at Rollins College (Fla.), had a near-flawless pitching performance of his own—throwing three pitches consistently for strikes throughout the game.

"He’s a good frickin’ pitcher," Michael said of his counterpart. "His curve down and in to a righty is just deadly."

Norwood is playing their best baseball at the right time---with the tournament just around the corner. Having won nine of their last ten games, the Mustangs have shown they should be considered a serious contender going forward. Their last two losses -- 3-2 to Silver Lake on May 11th, and the previously mentioned 11-10 loss to Walpole -- have come at the hands of two of the state’s best teams.

"We break [the season] out into four quarters...we try to get that wheel rolling," Igoe said. "We’ve got a tough game Wednesday against Newton North and then Xaverian’s coming in Saturday. We do that purposely so we’re battle-tested. Believe me we can beat anybody, or we can lose to anybody."

Tompkins said he cherished the electric environment of the game, and best summed up the always-thrilling Walpole/Norwood baseball rivalry:

"I’d rather play under the lights so that the league and all the people can see the Walpole-Norwood game," he said. "Usually it’s the best game of the saw one hell of a game tonight."

Recap: No. 7 Walpole 11, Norwood 10

April, 27, 2013

WALPOLE, Mass. -– Friday afternoon’s showdown was full of clutch hitting and timely defensive plays -- as any Walpole-Norwood matchup should be. Walpole took an 8-1 lead after three innings, watched Norwood (5-3) tie the game one inning later, and in the bottom of the ninth Johnny Adams drove in the winning run to seal an 11-10 victory for the Rebels (9-1).

Adams was 0-for-5 going into his last at-bat, but was able to put all that behind him with the game on the line. With a base knock up the middle, he drove in the winning run, doing just what his coach told him to do.

“He’s the man we’d want up every time, I don’t care if he’s 0-for-10," Walpole coach Bill Tompkins said. "[I told him] just take it up the middle, don’t try to do more than you can, just take it up the middle."

Adam’s game-winning single was just one of several big-hits in what was a spirited offensive affair. Walpole scored three runs in the first inning, then added five more in the third inning -— four of which came via a grand slam to left field by rightfielder Matt Bender.

"He just jumped on a fastball and got all of it...the reason why Matt got that hit and the other kid got a home run is that the balls are up," Tompkins said. "Not good location, and that’s what happens when you leave the ball up."

All the momentum was in Walpole’s dugout at that point, but Norwood refused to quit. The Mustangs put seven runs on the board to come back from what originally appeared to be an unanswerable deficit.

“We’re a real good team, we’re gonna’ be there when it’s all said and done," Norwood coach Kevin Igoe said. "Give [Walpole] credit too, when we came back they stole the momentum; we’ve got to step on their neck when we’ve got them. They’re too good a team to let them go."

Nearly all of Norwood’s lineup got involved in the rally: Anthony Perriello legged out an RBI-triple early in the inning, Mark Saulnier ripped a double to drive Perriello in, while Tyler Gover drove in a run on a base hit and Rourke Flynn drove in two of his own on a double to bring the score to 8-6.

Flynn scored on the next play when two Norwood runners came around on a wild play, tying the game at eight.

“That’s a very typical Walpole-Norwood game,” Tompkins said. “A lot of comebacks—give Norwood credit, they were down 8-1 and they didn’t quit. They bounced back for that big seven-spot in the fourth inning.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Walpole catcher Rick Ordway (4-for-4, RBI) smashed an RBI double to left field to give the Rebels a 9-8 lead. Norwood, on cue, came back once again, tying the game on a two-run homer by Saulnier in the seventh.

Walpole managed to tack on two runs to win the game. In the eighth, following a single, Ordway came around to score on a triple by designated hitter Jim Smith.

“Some big hits in that eighth inning, [Ordway] got his fourth hit of the game, right after a double play too. He didn’t give up,” Tompkins said.

In the bottom of the ninth, Walpole’s Mike Rando got on base on what appeared to be a controversial call by the homeplate umpire on a pop-up inbetween first base and right field. Rando reached base, and eventually came around to score the winning run on Adams’ RBI single. Tompkins appreciated the win and effort from his players, but emphasized that they should not get ahead of themselves.

“It’s a nice boost, but it’s still midway through the season," Tompkins said. "We talked about win or lose, this wasn’t gonna be the end of the season, there’s still a lot of baseball to play. We’re 9-1, and we haven’t played an A-game yet. We hung in there, we didn’t give up, just like Norwood didn’t give up, and we came back and go the W. Good win, but it’s just one win.”

D1 Baseball: Norwood 11, Marshfield 10

June, 6, 2012
MARSHFIELD, Mass. — It’s no secret to Kevin Igoe that his Norwood baseball team likes to live on an edge a little too much this season.

Igoe has seen his team build huge leads, get a little complacent and then find a way to gut out a victory several times already. It’s enough to drive a coach mad, especially with their tournament lives hanging in the balance.

The Mustangs followed that exact script and lived to tell about it as they knocked the third-seeded Rams (17-5) out of the Div. 1 South playoff with an 11-10 thriller on Wednesday afternoon.

Sean O’Neil went 5-for-6 with two extra base hits and three RBI, Peter Kelly scored two runs, including the pivotal run in the top of the seventh, and Kenny Michael closed the door with six strikeouts in the final three innings of relief as the No. 6 Mustangs (17-5) will take on No. 15 Xaverian in the semi-finals on Thursday.

“We don’t play well with leads. I don’t know what it is,” said Igoe. “All year we have been up 8-0, 7-0, but we always seem to let the guy up. I don’t know what that says about us, but we’ve started out 2-3 and since then we are 15-2. They are confident with a relaxed intensity about them and we’ve got great senior leadership.”

Michael was called into relief for the second straight game in the tournament, and again he kept the opposing lineup at bay with the momentum clearly favoring the Rams in the final innings.

“When we have leads we don’t really settle, but I don’t know how to explain it,” said Michael, who earned the victory against New Bedford on Tuesday. “We usually see teams come back like that, but that one was a little too close for comfort.”

How They Got The Lead: The Mustangs have balance up and down the lineup and that was on display against the Rams’ left-handed starter Kevin Kwedor.

Kwedor had a tough time keeping the ball down in the zone and the Mustangs sprayed line drives all over the field. Norwood sent 12 men to the plate, and scored eight runs on six hits and two errors.

O’Neil, Anthony Perriello — who left the game in the third inning after pulling his hamstring while trying to leg out an infield single — and Nick Saulnier opened the inning with three straight off Kwedor to plate two runs.

Tom Munro was plunked with a pitch and Tyler Gover hit a ball down the line by the diving third baseman to score Saulnier for the third run of the inning. Munro and Gover moved up into scoring position after a throwing error by the left-fielder on the play.

Kwedor hit his second batter of the inning and another error in left brought in a run. O’Neil carved a 1-0 pitch just fair down the left-field line for two more runs and Perriello added another RBI single for the 8-0 lead.

In the top of the fifth, O’Neil blasted an RBI double off the school in right field for the ninth run of the game and Rourke Flynn, who came in for the injured Perriello, followed that up with another RBI double for the 10-0 lead.

How They Gave It Up: The bottom of the fifth inning looked like it would be another quick inning for the Mustangs, but the Rams exploded offensively to get right back into the game.

The Rams had nine men in a row reach safely for eight runs. Kyle Moran delivered with a two-run double and Steve Harrington hit a two-RBI single as the Rams compiled nine hits in the inning after having only four in the previous four innings.

“Every time we were in the in the huddle we were saying that we were going to break through, we were going to break through and then we did,” said Rams head coach Billy Battis. “I’m very proud of them.”

How They Got It Back: Kelly doubled to leadoff the top of the seventh and moved over to third on a single to third by O’Neil.

Flynn rolled one towards the hold between short and third, which allowed Kelly to scamper home for the winning run.

Michael came on in relief with the bases loaded, nobody out in the bottom of the seventh inning and allowed two inherited runs to cross the plate, but then he settled in nicely to get three swinging strikeouts and two Rams looking.