Even with big leaguer Brian Wilson fighting his way back into baseball after Tommy John surgery, Ryan Moloney needs no reminders.
“There’s a tradition of pitching here that we’re pretty darn proud of,” said Moloney, the Londonderry senior right-hander. “You hear the names. When I came in, there was Jake Finnegan and those guys, and even now I spend a lot of time working out with (Independent minor leaguer) Alex Szymanski.
“It’s not pressure when you think of it, but it’s something you want to live up to.”
Moloney, off to a 2-1 start for the 5-3 Lancers, is doing just that. In 21 innings, he’s got a 1.67 ERA with 16 strikeouts and only six walks.
“He’s definitely our workhorse,” said Lancer coach Brent Demas. “We knew we’d be counting on him.”
Demas had good reason to count on the big, 6-2, 200-pounder.
Over the last three years, he put up an 11-7 mark, with an ERA of 2.43 and 83 strikeouts over 98 innings.
Moloney likes where he and the Lancers stand as they approach the midpoint of the Division 1 regular season.
First off, his future is set. Moloney will pitch at UMass Amherst on a partial scholarship, choosing the Minutemen over Sacred Heart and Old Dominion.
“I’m just really excited about it. From what I’ve heard, day in and day out, you are a student-athlete, with practice, workouts and study sessions all a part of my responsibility,” said Moloney. “When I went down there, I really like the campus and the coaching staff. It just felt like a great place for me.”
Before Moloney moves on, he and the Lancers have some business to tend to in what looks like a wide-open Division 1.
“We’re 5-3, but all three losses were one-run games, so it’s not like we haven’t been in our games. We feel pretty good,” said Moloney. “We have three starters (Rob Del Signore and Tom Corey) who’ve been throwing the ball great. And the hitting is coming together.”
As for the comparisons for Moloney. Is he the next Wilson or Finnegan or Szymanski?
“Wilson is definitely one of my pitching heroes. I absolutely looked up to him,” said Moloney, who as a sophomore was featured in an ESPN.com piece on the Giants’ World Series hero. “And I still do a lot of work with Al. But I’m just a goofy kid, who likes to pitch and have a good time.”
BRILLIANT STARTFOR WINDHAM
His troops have paid their dues and delivered the maximum effort, so Windham High baseball coach Derek Lee expected success on the diamond this spring.
“What I didn’t expect was the 10-run games and some of the easier wins,” admitted Lee, whose Jaguars have ripped off six victories in a row after dropping the opener.
“I’d say there have been two real keys. First, the commitment has been there, and so has the leadership from the upperclassmen.”
On the field, there is little the Jags haven’t done.
Juniors Adam Dolan (3-0, 1.24 ERA, 21k in 17 ip) and Jeff Peterson (2-1, 18k in 15 ip) continue their friendly battle for “ace” status on the mound. The team’s ERA now hovers at 2.33.
At the plate, the Jags now are at .314.
“We have several impact freshmen, and I credit our upperclassmen for that. They’ve welcomed those guys and treated them like upperclassmen,” said Lee.
The respect has been rewarded. First off, there has been the blazing start by Connor Moynihan, who is 7 for his first 8 with a pair of doubles and a pair of triples. Outfielder Connor Hopkins is swinging at a rock-solid .364, while Riley Magee has been a rock behind the plate and has come alive to swing it at a .318 clip, overcoming a 1 for 9 start.
At 6-1, the Jags are a definite Division 2 threat.
“And we’ve been without Danny Moynihan (torn labrum) all year, too,” said Lee. “If we had him, we’d be even stronger.”
BACK AND BATTLING
With no varsity pitching back, Salem high coach Dan Keleher could hardly be considered optimistic in the preseason.
But Keleher’s Blue Devils are expounding the point that there is something to tradition and program and history.
The Devils stand at 4-4, right in the middle of the pack.
“Considering we lost a couple games in the last inning, our 4-4 could easily be 6-2, also,” said Keleher. “There really isn’t a dominant team out there. Londondery might have the total package, but after that ...”
Dan Morin, C.J. Beaulieu and Matt Survilas have thrown strikes, and the defense has delivered behind them. Folks in the Granite State are raving about the work at shortstop by freshman Nick Shumski.
“He’s making plays that make you think of (former Salem legend) Jeff Castillo as a freshman,” said Keleher.
At the plate, as expected Moran (.385, 8 runs, 8 RBIs) and Joe Lemenager (.310, 10 RBIs) have been the tone-setters for the Blue Devils.
As we all know, you just have to make the tournament in Division 1 New Hampshire baseball, especially since again the baseball committee’s recommendation that Round 1 be a best of 3 was shot down by the NHIAA.
And Salem is clearly in that mix.
GRANITE STATE RAP
After shaky, skaky starts, it looks like all three teams — Pinkerton, Timberlane and Sanborn — have passed through the rocky seas with better times ahead.
More often then not, when first-year coach Steve Campo runs Andrew Herlihy and Connor Donahue to the hill, Pinkerton, still 2-6, has a chance to win. The Astros are young and by all accounts improving by the day.
Timberlane pieced together a much-needed win Friday, basically with little or no pitching, to bump up to 3-6.
And Sanborn is rallying around a pretty good one in Brendan Hamilton to get back into the thick of things in Division 2.