Touching all the Bases
---- — There may not be a more monument 3 for 4 in area baseball history.
Just nine days after taking a Speros Varinos fastball off the left eye, Georgetown High freshman Mike Goddu was back at the plate, digging in and taking his hacks against Triton.
“I was confident today, excited, ready to come back,” said Goddu, who wore a facemask at the plate to protect the two broken bones in his face — one on the cheek and one above his eyebrow.
“I was really lucky. A million things could have gone wrong. I should have had a season-ending injury, I was lucky, and I’m thankful for that.”
Varinos is one of the harder throwers and best pitchers in the CAL. He lost a fastball inside and high at the wrong time.
“I was sitting on a curve ball, and I flinched at the last second, so the ball deflected off the earpiece and hit my eye,” said Goddu. “I didn’t go down, but I couldn’t feel my face. I was just in a daze really. The first thing I asked when I hit the bench was if all my teeth were still there.”
The beaning scared even the most seasoned baseball people.
“You just had to hear it to know how bad it could have been,” said Masco assistant coach Brian Duplissie.
Goddu is such a promising outfield prospect. He represents the future of Georgetown baseball. When asked this week about him, both Georgetown coaches, Justin Spurr and Phil Desilets, were confident that their man would return.
“The kid is just a baseball player, through and through,” said Spurr on Tuesday. “I have no doubt, when he gets the go-ahead, he’ll be right back.”
Three days later, Spurr put Goddu right back in center on Friday against Newburyport. His presence in center — he didn’t bat — helped snap a five-game Royals losing streak.
Yesterday, Spurr finished the comeback by leading Goddu off.
“I kept my cool,” said Goddu. “Before the game, I was focussed and listened to music to relax. I did well in batting practice, and I was fine.”
After feeling uncomfortable a little bit with the mask, Goddu has overcome the apprehensions. He might even wear it a little longer than he has to, this summer with his Legends Baseball travel team, just to be safe.
“Like I said, I feel lucky. I should have been done,” he said. “Instead, I’m seeing normal, and I’m not supposed to have surgery. I’m going to wear it and just let it heal.”
It was a cold afternoon on opening day, a tough non-league loss to Central Catholic.
Most of the athletes on the field that day were probably headed for a cup of hot cocoa.
Lawrence High senior Jose Cedano, who was 0 for 1 with a walk that day, was headed out to the hitting cage in right field to hit off the tee.
“When I don’t do something to help my team, that’s the worst feeling,” said Cedano, a 3-year starter behind the plate for the Lancers. “I’ll do anything to keep working and help this team. That’s my job.”
It is that kind of intense pressure that Cedano has put on himself since taking over for current Merrimack College backstop Dionys Quezada. After hitting .270 as a sophomore, Cedano looked to strap the Lancers on his back last year. He struggled, and the average dipped.
“I don’t care about numbers,” said Cedano. “If we win, it doesn’t matter what I do.”
Brendan Neilon and the Lancer staff have worked mightily to loosen up the driven Cedano. The hard work has been paying off of late.
“Coach says I think too much, and I try to do too much,” said Cedano. “I’ve just tried to go up there relaxed and not really think. It’s worked. I’m finding the groove.”
The Lancers, now 10-6, have ripped off seven wins in the last 8. Over that span, Cedano, who was 3 for 25 before the streak, has ripped off a 9 for 24 stretch, driving in 10 runs and scoring nine.
Clearly, he’s been huge in the race, shutting teams down from behind the plate as well.
“Like I said, I don’t like losing. I hate it,” said the Salem State-bound backstop. “I’ll doing anything to find a way to help us win.”
HEAVY HITTING RAMPAGE FOR KNIGHTS
He gets lost often in a lineup that other than him is hitting .194 in their first season in the Merrimack Valley Conference, but it’s tough not to notice the campaign of rage being inflicted by North Andover first baseman Tyler Whitley.
Whitley, who has drawn plenty of interest in Division 3, is looking at UMass Lowell, where he is thinking about walking on.
The senior, who hit .394 in the Cape Ann League, is now at .405 on the year, leading the team with 14 RBIs. He’s either scored or delivered 18 of his team’s 48 runs scored.
“He’s having a great year. His approach is great, seeing the ball real well. He could be hitting .600 or .700. He’s got so many hard outs. Every time at the plate, he’s driving the ball,” said coach Todd Dulin. “He can hit good pitching. I thought coming in he’d have a good season. Last year he showed signs of greatness.”
By the way, the 3-10 Knights still have plenty to play for. A Division 2 club, they play in the predominantly D1 MVC, which means along with Tewksbury and Dracut, North Andover is eligible for the state tourney through the Sullivan Rule.
Friday’s 5-3 win over Dracut made the Knights 2-2 against Division 2 teams so far. They still have Pentucket, Tewksbury, Reading, and Tewksbury again in the Lawrence Invitational, meaning they’ll need to win two of those games to qualify for the tourney.
Marc Pelletier put the ball in Andrew Hamel’s hand Friday afternoon in Chelmsford. He might as well have been handing him the Raiders’ season.
Down a game in the MVC large to the Lions, the Raiders would end the day either tied or down two with four to play in the league.
The big horse, Hamel delivered a monster effort, shutting out the Lions on five hits while striking out eight.
“It’s just huge for us as a team, especially coming off the tough (2-1) loss to Billerica on Monday,” said Hamel, who moved to 4-1 on the year with the 1-0 victory. “We want to take over the MVC. That win solidified our spot to give us a chance at it. It was absolutely a must-win.”
The Phillips Andover-bound lefty is having a superb season at 4-1 with a 2.88 ERA.
But he might not have come up with that win had it not been for gritty, pinch-game-winning hit in the seventh by senior classmate Nick Delois.
That one was a season-saver in more ways than one.
Delois got the call from Pelletier despite being just 0 for 10 on the season.
“Coach definitely gave Nick a chance, and he stepped up for us,” said Hamel. “Talk about a huge spot.”
This race is absolutely wide open. With the Raiders and Lions knotted at 7-3, Andover is right behind at 6-4.
Each team plays 14 league games.
PERFECT TIME TO COME ALIVE
If you watched Chris Dunn light it up night after night from three-point land the last two winters, you can’t ever imagine him having a slump.
But Dunn struggled at the plate early for Andover, going 2 for his first 24.
“My confidence was down,” said Dunn. “And I started to get down on myself.”
To his credit, Dunn fought his way out of the trouble and has helped ignite the late Warrior charge right into the MVC large race.
“We know we can play, and I just think we’ve shown it lately,” said Dunn, who has gone 7 for his last 13 with six RBIs in the last four for the Warriors who hit the new week on a six-game win streak.
Andover has Central (7-3) twice and Chelmsford (7-3) left in its final four league games.
“We have our work cut out for us, but we’re definitely right there,” said Dunn. “We decide our own fate, and that’s all we can ask for. We just have to play like we know we can.”
Dunn will need to stay hot. He hopes to keep his baseball career going as long as he can. After graduation, he’s off to Providence College, where he hopes to walk-on in hoops.
STAT OF THE WEEK
For you Methuen High Ranger hardball fans out there, there is no conspiracy because there are no Methuen players in the local hitting leaders.
The Rangers, who’ve scored just 37 runs in 14 games (4-10), are simply battling to scrounge up offense. Methuen enters the home stretch hitting only .225 as a team. Evan Lacroix leads the Rangers with a .288 average.