WEYMOUTH — Effectively, you knew it was only a matter of time earlier than the Milton Excessive baseball crew began swinging the bats with some venom.
Shut out of their final sport of the 2021 season (2-0 by Hopkinton within the Division 2 South closing) and once more within the first sport of the 2022 marketing campaign (1-0 by Austin Prep ace Evan Blanco final Saturday), the Wildcats arrived at Libby Area on Friday itching to jump-start the offense.
“We have been prepared proper from the tip of college (as we speak),” senior catcher Shea Donovan mentioned. “We needed to get right here and needed to play.”
Milton wasted little time.
Owen McHugh’s two-run double down the right-field line highlighted a four-run first inning.
Donovan’s two-run house run to left — “I noticed it and I took it,” he mentioned with a giant grin — was the large blow in a four-run second.
And Charlie Walker’s two-run double to the fence in left-center kicked off a three-run third.
A fast verify of the maths reveals that, sure, Milton’s hitters have certainly discovered their groove.
“It was nice to see the blokes swinging the bats as we speak,” Milton coach Brendan Morrissey mentioned after a 13-2 win over Bay State Convention rival Weymouth that was halted after 5 innings because of the mercy rule. “They performed very well. It was good to see the offense get going.”
Blanco had tied Milton in knots within the opener, throwing a three-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts. Recreation 2 was a a lot completely different story, particularly within the high half of the batting order. Milton’s first 5 batters — Jimmy Fallon, Donovan, Walker, McHugh and Jack Finnegan — mixed for 11 hits, 11 runs and 10 RBI.
“We’re feeling nice,” Donovan mentioned. “All we’ve to do is string hits collectively and we get runs. It is an excellent mixture.”
“It was nice,” agreed Morrissey. “We combined it up a bit bit from final yr on the high of the order and it appears to be working nicely.”
Fallon was 3 for 3 with 4 runs scored and an RBI triple out of the leadoff spot. He hit fourth final season as Milton completed 17-3.
“Jimmy’s been terrific within the leadoff spot,” Morrissey mentioned. “He confirmed that he has some pop, too, and he runs the bases nicely. We’re glad to have Jimmy on the high of the lineup.”
Ryan Dexter, hitting within the No. 6 spot, was 1 for two with an RBI, and No. 9 hitter Ryan Kelley was on base thrice (two walks and a single) and scored twice.
“One by means of 9,” Morrissey mentioned, “we expect we’ve robust at-bats.”
All that offense is available in assist of what ought to be a lights-out pitching rotation headlined by the 1-2 senior punch of Walker (sure for Northeastern) and Brian Foley (headed to UMass-Lowell). It was Foley’s activate Friday, and whereas his first inning was tough — he gave again two runs after being staked to a 4-0 lead — he settled down quickly after.
Weymouth (0-2) acquired 4 hits in that first inning however only one the remainder of the best way. Foley fanned seven over his 4 innings of labor earlier than lefty Ben Catudal labored a 1-2-3 fifth to slam the door.
“I used to be probably not mixing up my pitches within the first inning,” mentioned Foley, a 6-3 right-hander. “I figured it out after which acquired to my slider and sinker over the past three (innings) so I settled in after that.
“In preseason I did stay at-bats with my mates for a short time, however we solely had one preseason sport and I solely acquired one inning (in that one). I simply needed to get my toes moist.”
“If he is struggling, all he does is take a deep breath and pound the strike zone,” Donovan mentioned. “He used a number of his different pitches (after the primary inning) and he has good management with all of them. He is capable of put every thing within the strike zone.”
Final season Walker was 9-0 with a 1.20 ERA whereas Foley checked in at 6-2, 1.21. Sophomore Thomas Mitchell and McHugh determine to spherical out the Milton rotation, however that Huge Two on the high is a frightening problem for opponents.
“Now we have a blast,” Foley mentioned. “Quite a lot of opposing groups are going to be dreading it.”
That mixture was a giant purpose that Milton made its deepest playoff run since 1974 final spring. Having their co-aces again is a giant enhance for Milton’s state-title hopes. The Wildcats will compete in Division 2 of the brand new statewide playoff format, battling the likes of Canton, Duxbury, Quincy, North Quincy, Oliver Ames, Plymouth North, Plymouth South, Scituate, Silver Lake, Stoughton and Whitman-Hanson.
Oh, and Hopkinton is there, too.
“The loss was unhealthy, so we do not need that to occur once more,” Foley mentioned of the 2021 sectional closing setback to the Hillers, who went on to lose the state closing to St. Mary’s (Lynn). “We need to be celebrating on the finish of the season as a substitute of being mad or unhappy. That is the objective.”
“Final yr was most likely the perfect yr of baseball I’ve ever had,” Donovan mentioned. “I am simply so excited to get going once more. There isn’t any purpose we will not do it once more, besides this yr we will win it.”
FALLING BEHIND EARLY
Whereas Milton makes plans for an additional playoff tour, Weymouth is simply looking for its footing. Coach Joe Paolucci’s crew misplaced its opener, 10-2, to North Quincy and dug itself a deep gap proper out of the gate on this one.
Beginning pitcher Jack O’Rourke issued three walks within the four-run first inning, together with to 2 of Milton’s first three batters.
“We simply weren’t aggressive from the beginning, which was unlucky,” Paolucci mentioned. “Pitching was sort of our problem final yr (in a 5-13 marketing campaign that ended with a Div. 1 South first-round loss) and to date this yr it has been the identical factor. Simply too many walks.”
Paolucci saluted the reduction efforts of Colin McPherson (3 innings, 6 hits, 3 earned runs) and James Mackin (1 inning, 2 earned runs), however Weymouth wound up permitting 13 hits and 6 walks.
On the plus aspect, third baseman Dylan Umano had a advantageous day, each on the plate (2 for 3) and within the area. Within the fifth, with runners on first and second and none out, he snagged a pointy grounder off Donovan’s bat, raced to the third-base bag for the force-out and threw a strike to first to finish the double play.
“He is excellent,” Paolucci mentioned. “I do not assume he made an error for us final yr. If he did, I do not keep in mind it. And he is picked up proper the place he left off. He is stable defensively. He is really a shortstop by commerce however he is excellent over there at third.”
Weymouth’s two runs within the first got here courtesy of an RBI double by DH Sean Zaslaw and an RBI single from first baseman Andrew Ferguson. Weymouth has two large holes to fill in its lineup this spring following the commencement of first baseman Brendan Morris (he hit .368 final yr) and shortstop Jack Doyle.
“Brendan had an excellent yr for us final yr,” Paolucci mentioned. “Jack was really harm all final yr. He was most likely one of many higher gamers in our league, however he pulled his hamstring in his second at-bat (of the season) and we did not have him all final yr.
“Now we have good gamers right here, imagine it or not. We simply should get it out of them and present what we will do.”