Boston High School: Tom Pannone

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

June, 27, 2012
In baseball, batting .300 is indicative of success. But what Hendricken has accomplished would short-circuit any computer.

Rhode IslandCoach Ed Holloway’s Hawks are “batting” .700 over the last 10 years because they captured their seventh Division I state championship over that span.

Altogether, Hendricken has won 17 state titles since 1977.

Hendricken almost made it look easy as it swept South Kingstown 12-2 (the game was called after five innings because of the Interscholastic League’s mercy rule) and 5-0 in the best-of-three finals.

Senior right-hander Tom Pannone, who’s signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Miami, went the distance on a one-hitter in the clincher – striking out 13 Rebels in the process.

The Hawks, who finished with a 23-2 overall record, never gave the Rebels a chance in Game 1 by building a 6-0 lead after three innings.

Bobby Indeglia, another senior, improved to 9-0 by allowing two runs on four hits (Hendricken did commit two errors).

Pannone, who plays the outfield when he isn’t pitching, singled and homered while junior Matt Murphy added three hits and five RBI.

Johnston won the 2011 Division II state title with a team that was loaded with seniors.

Understandably, the Panthers weren’t expected to repeat this season given the plethora of underclassmen on coach Steve DeMeo’s team.

Wrong! Johnston swept Prout 11-1 (in another mercy rule game) and 7-1 in the best-of-three finals.

Panther pitching dominated the series as Johnston finished with a 24-2 overall record.

Glen Bianchi allowed one run on one hit over six innings in Game 1 while James Picchi allowed one run on two hits while going the distance in Game 2. Picchi faced just two batters over the minimum and needed a mere 76 pitches to complete his assignment.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

June, 18, 2012
Over the years, La Salle Academy has won enough state championship trophies to fill a vault at Fort Knox.

Rhode IslandNow the school must make room for one that’s eluded it for years: a state championship trophy for boys’ lacrosse.

The Rams applied an exclamation point to an undefeated (14-0) season by beating Moses Brown School, 9-7, in the finals -- after losing in the finals each of the previous two seasons.

The championship also ended four years of frustration because coach Steve O’Donnell’s team had compiled the best regular-season record (54-3) during that span but had zero to show for its efforts.

What made this championship game even more noteworthy was the fact that underclassmen led the way over the Quakers (9-6).

Sophomore Peter DeSimone, who was voted the game’s MVP, scored three goals and assisted on three; junior Brady O’Donnell fired in three goals including his team’s last two which proved to be huge in the final outcome; and sophomore goalie Matt Andrews made eight saves in the crucial fourth quarter.

In other boys’ finals:

*At the risk of using a hockey metaphor, East Greenwich’s Ethan Zink scored a “pure” hat trick as the Avengers beat South Kingstown, 10-4, for the Division II championship. The Avengers (19-1) were leading by a slim 3-2 margin in the last minute of the second quarter when Zink scored for a 4-2 halftime lead. Then, Zink tallied the first two goals of the third quarter and the Avengers went on to clinch their second consecutive state title. EG goalie John Trutza came up big in net by making 19 saves.

*Smithfield senior Ryan Benoit made sure he would end his career in style by scoring three goals and assisting on another as the Sentinels whipped Narragansett, 12-6, for the Division III championship. Benoit’s younger brother, Ryan contributed three goals and two assists to the triumph.

What the Moses Brown boys were unable to accomplish, the Quaker girls did, capturing a Division I lacrosse championship.

Coach Jeanne Carhart’s team completed an 18-1 season by defeating Barrington, 14-10, with senior Hannah Saris scoring two goals and assisting on five.

But what Saris meant to the Quakers’ offense so did goalie Jamie Marshall to the defense. The sophomore stopped 15 Eagles shots and earned the game’s MVP award.

Saris finished the season with 93 goals and 56 assists.

In the Division II championship game, junior middie Chloe Andrew scored four goals and assisted on three as Cumberland edged defending state champion Tiverton, 12-10.

The championship was the second in school history for the 17-1 Clippers.

Hendricken and South Kingstown will make the much-anticipated bus ride to McCoy Stadium – home of the Pawtucket Red Sox – for the best-of-three Division I state baseball championship.

The Hawks punched their ticket to the finals by sweeping Coventry by identical scores of 3-2 (although the second game lasted 10 innings).

Tom Pannone, a senior pitcher/outfielder who last week was selected in the 33rd round by the Chicago Cubs, went the distance on a five-hitter and belted a solo homer in Game 1.

Then, in the clincher, Rob Hendry lined a one-out single in the top of the 10th which snapped a 2-2 tie.

Jake Newberry earned the victory by virtue of pitching three innings of scoreless relief.

Cumberland and South Kingstown split the first two games of their best-of-three semifinal series.

The Rebels won the opener, 4-3, but Cumberland evened the series with a 1-0 victory in Game 2 as Justin Patrick went the distance on a three-hitter.

The third and deciding game was over almost before it started because South Kingstown romped, 16-1. The game was called after 4 1/2 innings because of the Interscholastic League’s mercy rule.

Jeremy Swan earned the victory as he allowed only two hits and struck out six.

T.J. Lynch paced an 11-hit attack with a two-run single plus a solo home run.

Hendricken will be chasing its seventh state title in the last 10 years while the Rebels will be seeking their first since 2002.

Johnston and Prout will battle it out for the Division II title. Prout will be making is fifth consecutive trip to the best-of-three finals after beating Woonsocket in three games.

In the decisive third game, Kory Lawrence belted a two-run double and Marshall Vigneault allowed four hits as the Crusaders prevailed, 3-2.

Johnston also went to three games before eliminating Westerly with a 10-1 triumph in the final game.

Joe Bongiovanni went the distance for the Panthers as he allowed six hits. And at the plate he collected two hits which were good for three RBI.

What were the odds before the first pitch was thrown in anger that Lincoln’s softball team would go undefeated in 2012?

Right. Don’t ask.

But that’s what’s on the verge of happening.

Lincoln upped its record to 21-0 by blanking Toll Gate, 5-0, in the Division I winners’ bracket final.

Lindsay Mayer, who’s been a standout all season for the Lions, allowed six hits and fanned 15 en route to winning her 18th game of the season.

Coventry, came out of the losers’ bracket to reach the championship round as the Oakers beat Toll Gate, 4-2, in the bracket final.

Kerrie Deliberis went the route on a six-hitter replete with 10 strikeouts to pace the Oakers’ triumph.

*East Greenwich and West Warwick will clash for the Division II title. The top-seeded Avengers prevailed 11-0 over Woonsocket in a game that was called after 4 1/2 innings because of the league’s mercy rule. The Wizards came out of the losers’ bracket thanks to an 8-5 victory over the Villa Novans in the losers’ bracket final.

*Davies Tech captured the first softball title in school history by outlasting Central, 18-10, in the Division III finals. The Patriots were led by Maddie Goodhart, Kassandra Therrien and Caterina Martinez.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

May, 31, 2012
In 1955 the late, great comedic actor Peter Sellers made a movie titled “The Mouse That Roared.”

Rhode IslandIf the Rhode Island Interscholastic League should decide to make a high school baseball version of a sequel it should be named “The Cougars That Roared.”

With an enrollment of barely 500 male students, North Providence is near the bottom of the R.I.I.L. when it comes to sports. But the Cougars sure know how to play baseball.

Not only did coach Dean Garganese’s team capture the Division I championship with a 17-1 record, but the Cougars also earned the No. 1 seed in the 16-team, double-elimination Division I state tournament.

The Cougars got off on the right paw by mauling 16th-seeded Lincoln, 8-3, in an opening round game.

Mike Corin (three hits and two RBI), Nick DiDino (two-run single) and Tyler Proulx (two hits, one RBI) paced the attack as North Providence moved into the winners’ bracket.

North Providence annexed the top seed by blanking Moses Brown, 2-0, in its regular-season finale as Corin blanked the Quakers for six innings and Dillon McCluskie pitched a perfect seventh for the save.

In other first-round games:
* No. 2 Hendricken (the Hawks beat the Cougars two years ago in the finals) beat No. 15 East Greenwich, 7-2, as Bill Walker belted a solo homer and Tom Pannone (who’s signed a letter of intent to play his college ball at the University of Miami) allowed two runs on five hits over six innings.

* No. 14 Chariho upset No. 3 North Kingstown, 5-3, as Jacob Marchessault went the distance on a five-hitter. With the scored tied at 3 in the top of the seventh, Jim Paquette drilled a two-run single for the Chargers.

* No. 4 South Kingstown edged No. 13 Warwick Vets, 3-2, as Nick Hayes plated all of the Rebels’ runs with two hits.

* No. 5 La Salle blanked No. 12 Pilgrim, 3-0, with Caleb Gardner and Tyler Drainville combining for 12 strikeouts. The Rams scored their runs in the third on RBI doubles by Jesse Lee, Frank DiMato and Pat Burns.

* No. 11 Coventry knocked off No. 6 Cranston East, 5-1 as Matt Laferriere went the distance on a six hitter and fanned eight in the process.

* No. 7 Portsmouth routed No. 10 Cranston West, 10-0, with Matt Peters homering to key a 13-hit attack.

* No. 8 Cumberland had to work “overtime” to dispatch No. 9 Middletown, 1-0, in 12 innings. Ryan Harris led the last of the 12th with a single, advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw and scored the only run on a wild pitch.

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Recap: CM 7, Bishop Hendricken (R.I.) 1

May, 19, 2012
WARWICK, R.I. -– Whoever said a team can never have enough pitching must have had Catholic Memorial in mind.

Including Saturday’s non-league game at perennial Rhode Island power Hendricken, the Knights are in a stretch where they play five games in eight days.

“We have six guys that have pitched this year,” coach Hal Carey said after the Knights clipped the Hawks, 7-1. “(Pat) Hurley is our clear number one. But after that, everyone can throw well on a given day.

“We’re going to need them all because we have five games in eight days. Two are makeups (including a Sunday game against Malden Catholic).”

Since junior right-hander Sean Heelen went the distance it allowed Carey to avoid using any relief pitchers –- which means the Knights (9-6) could be in good shape as they seek to qualify for the MIAA playoffs.

Heelen allowed four hits and three walks (the run was unearned), and struck out six. Moreover, he threw 59 of 95 pitches for strikes.

“I tried to give it all I had on the mound so we could save our pitchers for next week, especially with some big Catholic Conference games coming up including Xaverian and Malden Catholic,” Heelen said. “And we have a big game against Brockton on Monday. “I tried to give it all I had and coach was happy.”

One reason Heelen was able to muffle the Hawks (16-3) was that he utilized a new pitch.

“I’ve been trying to incorporate a slider and this was the first game I actually threw it,” he said. “So, I tried to come in with a lot of off-speed (pitches), which I usually do. And I try to work as quickly as I can so the batters don’t any time.

“I try to go out there and throw strikes and try to keep my team in it. I had some help from the catcher, Kevin White.”

Arguably nobody appreciates a pitcher’s ability to work fast more than the position players.

In this game, Heelen retired nine Hawks on three pitches or less; the Knights only made one error; and the team turned a double play.

“I try to stay in a rhythm on the mound so the fielders don’t get lethargic, especially in the outfield,” Heelen said. “As long as I throw strikes and they put the ball in play I know my teammates will make plays.”

Perhaps the most notable Hawk Heelen kept in check was senior pitcher/outfielder Tom Pannone, who already has signed a letter of intent to play his college baseball at the University of Miami.

Pannone was robbed of a hit in the first when his blooper to left was snared by Garrett Ewanowski who made a head-first dive.

First baseman Todd MacDonald made a nice pick on a hard grounder in the third.

And Pannone went down swinging in the fifth.

Heelen helped himself by going 2-for-four with an RBI while Brian McCann smacked a pair of doubles plus a single and drove in two runs.

Hendricken’s lone run came in the second when Rich Bacon reached on CM’s lone error and scored on Justin Finan’s double. But when Finan tried to stretch that hit into a triple –- with nobody out -– he was gunned down a perfect relay from Ewanowski to shortstop Joe Presti to Mike Perry.

“We’re 9-6 playing a tough schedule,” Carey said. “Our defense has been good all year. And Sean throwing great today was a huge boost for us.

“We want to try and get it done in these next few days (i.e. qualify for the playoffs). We’re good enough to beat anybody in (Massachusetts) and Rhode Island. But anyone on our schedule can beat us, too.”

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

May, 17, 2012
At face value, the La Salle Academy boys’ lacrosse team should have been devastated last spring by graduation when six All-State players – including All-Americans Ryan Poirier (midfield) and Cody O’Donnell (defender) - departed via the cap-and-gown route.

Not quite.

Rhode IslandThrough games of May 15, the Rams were sitting atop Division I with an 8-0 record and were leading in both goals scored (107) plus goals allowed (48).

Most importantly, the Rams have established themselves as the team to beat in their pursuit of the first state championship since the school added the sport.

Over the previous four seasons, coach Steve O’Donnell’s team posted a combined record of 44-3. But the Rams have lost three times in the finals – in 2008 to North Kingstown, in 2010 to Moses Brown and in 2011 to Hendricken.

But the returning veterans have keyed La Salle’s run to a possible undefeated season.

For example, All-American attack Brady O’Donnell scored five goals in this week’s 12-9 victory over North Kingstown. And in a 7-5 non-league victory over Bishop Guertin, a Division I school from Nashua, N.H., O’Donnell collected a hat trick.

Second Team All-State midfielder Jack Collins fired home seven goals and assisted on another in a 12-8 win over Hendricken.

Senior midfielder Dan Lucchetti scored three goals and assisted on one when La Salle beat the Hawks, 11-7, in the teams’ rematch.

Senior midfielder Sam Ricci added one goal plus four assists in the second win over the Hawks.

Sophomore Peter DeSimone has played well at attack and recorded four goals plus an assist in that 11-7 win over Hendricken.

With three games left in the regular season, Tolman clinched the Division II-Central title on May 15 by blanking Mount Pleasant, 3-0, as Andrew Larson and Carlos Sanabria combined on a six-hitter.

That was the latest in a string of impressive victories for the Tigers (13-3 in league play and 14-3 overall).

Against arch-rival Shea, Sanabria tossed a two-hitter replete with one walk and 12 strikeouts as the Tigers prevailed, 10-0. Sanabria also went 4-for-5 at the plate with three RBI.

Earlier, Tolman received another solid mound performance from Larson who went the distance on a five-hitter as the Tigers edged Classical, 2-1.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

May, 2, 2012
Cranston West blinked first.

Rhode IslandThe Division I state baseball champion was clipped, 6-3, by 16-time state champion Hendricken.

That victory enabled the Hawks to remain undefeated and grab sole possession of first place.

Entering the first week in May, Hendricken (10-0) held a three-game lead over the Falcons (7-3).

Tom Pannone was a one-man wrecking crew against the Falcons. Besides striking out 10 he also hit a three-run homer. Pannone picked up where he left off in a 10-5 victory over East Greenwich as he fanned 11in 7 1/3 innings.

Mike King and Reed Gamache personally wrecked Tiverton in 13-0 victory. King tossed a no-hitter replete with six strikeouts while Gamache belted a grand-slam homer.

Pannone again wielded a big bat in an 8-4 win over Mount St. Charles when he smacked a sixth-inning solo homer that snapped a 4-4 tie.

Not surprisingly Hendricken received the most slots on the All-State boys’ hockey team.

The state-champion Hawks, who ended Mount St. Charles’s run of four consecutive titles, placed goalie Bill Palmer, defenseman Dan Nolte and forward Matt Creamer on the First Team.

Palmer, who was voted MVP honors in the best-of-three finals against Mount, allowed only 13 goals in 15 regular-season games.

Creamer recorded 43 points in 27 overall games. But what was most noteworthy about this honor was that he became one of the very few freshmen ever to be voted First Team accolades.

Defenseman Ben Handanyan and forward Brian Belisle represented Mount on the First Team while forward Bryan Lemos represented La Salle.

Goalie Holly Scott and freshman forward Meaghan Rickard earned First Team All-State honors for La Salle which captured the Division I state hockey title.

Scott, who was a First Team pick last year, was voted the MVP of the championship series versus Mount St. Charles.

Rickard led the Rams with 17-11-28 totals during the regular season.

Rounding out the First Team are Bay View defender Bethany Fogerty and forward Kiley Colucci plus Mount St. Charles defender Laureen Deguire and forward Brianna Castro.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

May, 4, 2011
The quality of golfers produced in Rhode Island is completely out of proportion to the Ocean State’s population.

Rhode IslandWitness the state’s two latest “phenoms” – Cumberland High senior Jamison Randall and La Salle Academy senior Juliet Vongphoumy.

Randall last summer won three tournaments: the World Series of Junior Golf, the Rhode Island Golfers Junior Championships and the New England Junior Championships which he captured in a sudden-death playoff.

Randall, who gained early acceptance to Old Dominion University (he’s receiving a partial athletic and academic scholarship), has one goal on his mind this season: Win the Rhode Island Interscholastic League State Tournament, after finishing second last year to Barrington’s Jared Adams.

At the recent 29th annual Challenge Cup Championship held at Cranston’s Alpine Country club, Randall finished second to Portsmouth junior Alex Grimes – whom he beat, 2-and-1, in the finals of the 2010 RIGA Juniors.

But in the opinion of Cumberland coach Jim Dickinson, Randall’s best days are ahead of him this season.

Dickinson stated that the fact Randall has been accepted at Old Dominion has allowed him to focus on “simply” playing golf instead of playing to gain admission to a college.

The last clipper to win the state championship was Chris Simmons in 1989.

Vongphoumy is a story all by herself since she’s the daughter of Laotian immigrants and because she stunned the state’s golfing community when, as a freshman in 2008, she captured the state’s 36-hole tournament by two strokes.

Just over a year ago, she became only the second player in who knows how many years to capture three consecutive American Junior Golf Association girls’ tournaments.

No wonder Vongphoumy was offered a full ride by Maryland. She also was recruited by other ACC schools like Duke and Boston College.

Vongphoumy honed her skills last year at Hilton Head Prep School in South Carolina before returning to La Salle for her senior year.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Randall and Vongphoumy could play against each other in the 2011 state tournament.

Unlike the Central High boys’ basketball team, which has won 11 state championships at the Division I level, the baseball team only has won a single state title – in 2006 when the Knights prevailed in the now-defunct Division III.

That drought may be about to change considering the Knights’ success as the Interscholastic League season nears the mid-way point. Coach Dave Hansen’s team leads Division II-Central with a 9-1 record due in large part to a senior-laden team. Central’s talent was on full display in a recent 10-0 romp over division rival Juanita Sanchez when Wailder Luna tossed a one-hit shutout and Manny Melo belted a three-run homer.

Luna entered this week with a 3-0 record in four starts plus a sub-2.00 ERA.

Melo, a senior, doubles as Central’s center fielder as well as the team’s closer.

Ironically, a junior, catcher Johnathan Salcedo is leading the team in batting with a .572 average.

According to Hansen, he wasn’t sure what his team was capable of doing entering this season. But the Knights have been out-hitting teams and have been even more difficult to beat when they play defense.

That was the case in a key 4-1 crossover victory against II-North Woonsocket when Central out-hit the Villa Novans 8-5 (behind Luna), and only committed a respectable two errors.

Division I-Central leader Hendricken and I-North leader Lincoln hooked up on Monday and the Hawks, who’ve won 16 state championships, beat the Lions, 5-1, as Tom Pannone tossed a three-hitter and also stroked an RBI single.

Cranston West, who also is in contention for the I-Central title, posted a big crossover victory last week against Lincoln – 8-7 as catcher Jeff Diehl (who’s been the object of numerous college and pro scouts’ attention) scored the winning run in the seventh on Alex Moretti’s double.

Lincoln and Chariho could be on a collision course for the state Division I softball championship – especially in recent results are any indication.

The Lions, led by All-State pitcher Alyssa McCoart, and Chariho, led by senior co-captains Makalya Clarke and Becky Williams, remained undefeated entering this week in their respective divisions.

Lincoln moved to 9-0 in I-North due to a combination of solid pitching and explosive hitting.

McCoart, who will play here college softball at Central Connecticut State, is 6-0 on the mound and is hitting .654 at the plate.

As a result, Lincoln has outscored its opposition 71-13.

Chariho is 8-0 in I-South after outlasting North Kingstown, 12-10.

Freshman Brianna Cole belted a home run to help pace the Chargers.

La Salle Academy’s boys have staked their claim as the team to beat in Division I.

Coach Steve O’Donnell’s Rams are 4-0 after routing defending state champion Moses Brown, 19-11, and arch-rival Hendricken, 11-1.

The Quakers beat the Rams in overtime in the 2010 finals while the Hawks beat the Rams in the 2009 semifinals.

So, how do you spell La Salle has a score or two to settle?

Long-stick defensemen Vito Capuano, Will Sturgis, Cody O’Connell, Ryan Gallogly and Matt Powers have been keys to La Salle’s success.

Middletown, and the Interscholastic League as a whole, lost a superb football coach when Andy Leys announced his retirement effective immediately in order to devote more time to his family.

Under Leys’ guidance, the Islanders posted a combined 33-15 record in Divisions III and IV over the last six years and won the 2010 Division III Super Bowl.
Leys also coached Middletown to the 2006 Division IV Super Bowl crown.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey, plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y. he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.