Boston High School: Scott Whelihan

Recap: No. 7 E. Longmeadow 11, West Side 1

May, 15, 2013
WEST SPRINGFIELD -- For East Longmeadow, it was about doing what it had to do. And Today, what the Spartans had to do was to win convincingly over a non-playoff team.

Consider that mission accomplished.

The Spartans used a sound five-inning effort from starter Caleb Berard and an offensive onslaught that included 13 hits, to win with ease, 11-1, over West Springfield.

The win, of course, improves the Spartans -- considered the team to beat in Western Mass. as the postseason creeps closer and closer -- to an impressive 16-1. And perhaps even more importantly, it comes a week after East Longmeadow suffered its first and only loss of the season to Cathedral.

The youthful Spartans, who weren’t considered a favorite entering the year due to massive turnover caused by graduation, including the loss of three scholarship players, proved evermore that they can recover from low points.

“You never know with a game like this,” said head coach Scott Whelihan. “This felt like a trap game. We were a little tight after the loss and I felt that coming in today too. But they battled. They always do.”

Berard struggled early, walking two batters and hitting the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning. He found a way to settle down, though, and escaped the jam having allowed just one run. The recovered form stuck with him throughout as he scattered just two hits and struck out seven while showcasing a nasty, biting slider that devastated the Terriers’ lineup.

Berard allowed just three baserunners in the middle innings of his start and escaped a two-on, no-out jam in his fifth and final frame.

“The slider was working great,” said Berard, who improved to 5-0 on the season. “I felt good after the first inning and always get stronger as the innings go on.”

The Spartans offense showed pop and execution as it collected 13 hits. What’s more, East Longmeadow -- which has rode to its impressive heights on the strength of its pitching staff --- showed a knack for handling the bat in various situations. Indeed, a sight to strike fear in the other Division I contenders.

“I had a feeling we were going to hit today,” Whelihan said.

Leadoff man Nick Lambert had two hits, two steals and a run scored to spark the top of the lineup. Reed Phillips, who hit for Berard, was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Vinnie Calcasosa had two hits and an RBI while smooth-fielding third baseman Nate Anderson was 2-for-4 with three RBI.

The adversity has been few and far between for the Spartans this season. After winning their first 14 games, perennial contender in the region Cathedral halted the streak and took away any thoughts of a perfect season.

But East Longemeadow has bounced back well. The Spartans defeated Chicopee, 4-3, on Friday and took care of business Tuesday at West Side. It appears the loss may have done them well.

“Oh we learned a lot,” said Whelihan. “We learned to never give up and these guys don’t. In that game, they never got down and we were down early against Chicopee.

“They’ve played hard and as a team all season.”

Prior to the Cathedral loss, East Longmeadow had only played in five games that could be considered "close". The loss and subsequent one-run win over Chicopee have shown head coach Whelihan and Co. the importance of being able to win in the clutch, especially as the postseason nears.

“We’ve been playing small ball and trying to execute," Whelihan said. "We’re really trying to get ready for the playoffs. It’s time to execute.”

Berard took some time to find his ground, struggling with control early on.

The junior southpaw walked the first two batters and hit Andre Marrero to load the bases before finding his groove.

“Early on, I went to the mound and told him to just do what he does,” Whelihan said. “I told him the team has faith in him and he settled down.”

To say that he got comfortable would be a major understatement. Berard retired the next three batters in succession, limiting the first-inning damage.

He struck out Brandon Magnil, got Sam Doucette to ground out and fanned Mark Couture -- ending the major threat and limiting the damage.

“I always start like that,” Berard said. “I don’t know what it is. After the first inning, I was able to throw on the side and I felt good going back out there.”

The lefty was dominant through the second, third and fourth innings, allowing just three base runners before getting into and out of a jam in the fifth.

“I just tried to focus and throw strikes,” he said. “I can’t worry about it. I just have to let my defense make plays.”

Recap: No. 8 E. Longmeadow 1, No. 10 'Chaug 0

April, 27, 2012

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- Steve Moyers admitted he wasn’t getting a feel for his fastball. It's a wonder if the ace pitcher of East Longmeadow Spartans felt any of his extremities at all yesterday on a cold and blustery afternoon.

What the crafty lefthander did have working for him was a hard-breaking curve and a baffling change up. Both proved more than effective as Moyers went the distance, handcuffing Minnechaug 1-0 in a battle between two of the top programs in the state.

“My fastball wasn’t really working today,” said Moyers, who will pitch for the University of Rhode Island next season. “I had to rely a lot on my other stuff. I was throwing a lot of first-pitch curves to keep their hitters guessing. It ended up working out as I hoped it would.”

Moyers (now 4-0 on the hill) silenced the Falcons, holding them to just a pair of singles while striking out 14 on 114 pitches. Not to shabby for a player who wasn’t totally on his game.

“Steve pitched superbly today,” said first-year Spartan coach Scott Whelihan, whose team improved to 11-0. “He kept (Minnechaug) off-balance and he does what Steve does. He was holding back a little because of the cold weather and trying to protect his arm. Normally he throws a lot harder than that but he was still hitting his spots today so it worked out.”

Besides doing it on the mound, Moyers also came up large at the plate when his team needed him to most. As anticipated, this contest was a tight-fisted duel between two of the state's elite pitchers. Thus far this season, the Spartans had yet to be involved in a close game. Needless to say, against Falcons pitcher Bryan Goossens, their mettle would be truly tested.

“Our closest game before today was a 4-1 win,” Whelihan said. “In a lot of our other games we've been putting up some crooked numbers. This was the kind of game I wanted today and I know it’s the kind of game Steve likes too. He enjoys competing against somebody. He enjoys games like this more than ones that are 10-0. That's the kind of competitive edge he has.”

While Moyers and Goossens were racking up zeros on the scoreboard early on, that would change in East Longmeadow's half of the fourth. Moyers led off the frame by working a 2-1 count. Goossens then delivered a high fast ball which Moyers slammed through the swirling winds high over the left field fence for the eventual game-winner.

“Bryan is really good and he was hitting all of his spots all game,” Moyers said. “In these conditions that was pretty awesome by him. On that home run, he threw it where I wanted it. I really wasn’t thinking home run to be honest. I was up there thinking base hit but it ended up working out for us.”

For Goossens (3-1), who will play for Siena College next year, that was the only mistake he would commit during his stellar complete-game effort. The righty scattered three hits and struck out seven.

“We know East Longmeadow is a class program and have talent all-around the field,” Minnechaug coach Erik Mandell said. “It was a mistake pitch Bryan left up and Moyers really turned on it. It’s not the first time (Moyers) has done that and it probably won’t be the last time either. Bryan was very good. When he pitches the way he pitched today you expect to win the game. It was a good pitcher’s duel and it was a playoff-like atmosphere today.

"Overall, I thought our bats were pretty good. We weren't chasing pitches out of the zone and the gameplan was for us to try and make Moyers throw a lot of pitches. We just weren't able to square up on any balls, and the balls we did put in play were taken care of by their defense. If you only give up one run to a team of that caliber it's a pretty-good performance but you still expect to win.”

Minnechaug, which reached the Division 1 state final last year before falling to Lincoln-Sudbury, drops to 9-2. Incidentally, yesterday’s contest was a rematch of last year’s Western Mass. final won by the Falcons, 9-2.

As far as East Longmeadow is concerned, this year has been regarded as a boom or bust campaign. Including this season, the Spartans have been the favorite to win Western Mass. and beyond the past three years. There is certainly enough talent here for them to do so.

In 2010, East Longmeadow Post 293 won the state American Legion crown. Many of those players from that squad play on this current Spartan team. Before losing to the Falcons in last year's final, East Longmeadow dropped a 1-0 decision to eventual state champion Amherst-Pelham Regional in 2010.

“So far we’ve been doing really good,” said Moyers. “We’re practicing hard and doing everything we can possibly do and continue to stay on track. (Winning a state title) is our main goal so hopefully we can get it this time. There’s a little bit of pressure on us but we know what we have to do. We just take it one game at a time and what happened in the past is in the past.”