Boston High School: Patrick Grucela

L-S shuts out A-B to take D1 North title

June, 13, 2011

LOWELL, Mass. -- Shutouts are far from rare in high school baseball. To shutout a team twice in one season? Possible.

But to shutout a team three times in one season? Especially when that team beat Lowell, previously-undefeated Lexington, and Lawrence to get to the sectional final? That is very difficult.

Lincoln-Sudbury did it Monday, however, with a 7-0 victory over Dual County League foe Acton-Boxborough at Alumni Field. L-S outscored A-B 30-0 over the three games they have played this season.

Of course, it is easier when you have Adam Ravenelle, the hard-throwing New York Yankee draftee, on the mound. The right-hander, who pitched in the previous two shut-outs for L-S, pitched six innings of one-hit baseball, striking out eight and surrendering three walks.

“I felt good today, it’s been a while since I’ve felt good with both my fastball and my curveball,” Ravenelle said. “It’s definitely a good time for that to come out.”

“Usually my strikeout pitch is my curveball, but today it was the fastball. I set it up with the curveball, and I guess they were still looking for it and I just kind of froze them with the fastball.”

With the win, L-S (22-2) moves on to play the winner of the D1 South Final, either Xaverian or Franklin, on Wednesday for the right to play for the Division 1 State Championship.

L-S knows that game will be a challenge, regardless of who they play.

“We have two teams left that we’ve played,” L-S coach Kirk Fredericks said. “Xaverian we played and lost 4-0. They’re a good, scrappy team, very well-coached. Franklin we played in the MetroWest Classic Championship game. They hit the ball well and have five or six pitchers that throw the ball as good as any of our guys. We fully expect it to be a war on Wednesday.”

Even though he didn’t let a runner past second base in his six innings of work, it was predetermined that Ravenelle would exit the game when he did. An A-B (18-6) runner did not make it past second base the entire game.

“We decided that we’d probably throw him about five innings today, regardless of the score,” said Fredericks. “He said he wanted to go one more, so we left him out there for one more.”

A-B’s Tyler Dickinson was moving along smoothly on the mound until the third inning when he surrendered back-to-back singles to Matt Cahill and Brian Carroll. Then he walked Dan Cellucci to load the bases. He struck out Carl Anderson for the second out of the inning, but gave up back-to-back singles to Ravenelle and Michael Berry that scored all three runners.

L-S struck again in the fifth with four runs on three hits in a walk, which included a two-run triple by Anderson that was made possible when the A-B leftfielder dove to try to catch the ball, but he missed, which allowed it to roll all the way to the wall.

“That’s baseball,” said A-B coach Patrick Grucela. “That was two phenomenal teams playing a game. We’ve talked all season that big innings are the curse and they got one three-run inning and one four-run inning when things didn’t quite go our way and that was the difference in the game.”

L-S got great production from Cahill and Carroll, their No. 8 and 9 hitters, who each went 3-for-4 in the game. It will need that if it hopes to advance to the State Championship game.

“Everyone takes their turn, and when we can put it together we’re a tough team,” Fredericks said.

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.”