You have to figure the emotions to be riding high this afternoon (1 p.m.) when Haverhill High travels up to Whittier Tech for an intra-city showdown.
You will not see a better pitching matchup in the region than Sean Wrenn (4-1) for the Hillies and veteran Andrew Wells (6-0) for the Hillies.
But in the game within the game, there is the war between two of the region’s top middle infielders, gamers and close friends, Whittier’s Nate Frongillo and the Hillies’ Nick Comei.
“It’s been like this since we were nine,” says Haverhill’s Nick Comei. “Play against each other in the spring and then with him in the summer.”
Comei and Frongillo have long since developed a friendship based in baseball. Up until this year, where Frongillo has moved to center field out of necessity, they played middle infield spots. The Haverhill Legion folks will again be counting on these two for strength up the middle, as long as they can tell the two dirt dogs apart.
“We play a similar game, hustling and stuff,” said Frongillo, who after going 8 for 8 on college acceptances has decided to play at Colby-Sawyer. “We both want to play hard.”
Comei, who will head off to WPI in the fall, concurs.
“We’re both always getting dirty out there, doing anything we can for hits, whatever it takes,” he said.
Victory in this one is again huge.
“Being this is the last time, and we’ve gone 1-2 against them, we need this,” said Frongillo.
The host Cats, to be blunt, aren’t just playing for their own honor. They carry the Commonwealth Conference’s reputation with them.
Think about this. The CAC large champs have sealed up the title with an 11-0 mark in the conference, outscoring league foes, 82-17. Outside the CAC, it’s a humbling 1-4 (outscored 12-38) with the lone win coming against Lowell Catholic, 4-3.
Now, you add in the Hillies’ recent euphoria of qualifying for another berth in the D1 North tourney, then the rivalry between the two Shoe City entities, and you’ve got yourself an absolute explosion waiting to happen.
“It’s a little different going into this one,” said Frongillo. “We’ve kept it low-key. The past couple years there’s been some trash talk. This year, it’s all about business.”
Even Twitter has been pretty quiet.
“So far,” laughed Frongillo. “But we will see.”
MOLONEY STEPS UP FOR GRANITE STATE
All of New Hampshire had had enough of Andover High coming up over the border and pounding out wins at the expense of the likes of Salem, Nashua North and Bishop Guertin this spring.
So yesterday, Londonderry coach Brent Demas let the big horse out of the barn against Andover, with UMass bound senior righty Ryan Moloney getting the start.
Moloney moved to 5-1, simply overwhelming the Warriors. He held the visitors to three hits and a walk, striking out eight, as the Lancers grabbed a 2-0 shutout win.
“He’s as good as we’ve seen,” said Andover assistant coach and former minor league lefty Kevin Shepard. “Yeah, he can throw it a little.”
Moloney’s ball painted the edges of the plate, all morning, fastball or curve, as he went the distance. The victory helped secure the Lancer spot at the top of the D1 standings and defended the honor of the entire state.
By the way, Jake Cassidy drove in the first Londonderry run, and Zach Tavano singled, stole second and third, then waltzed home on a wild pitch.
WITH EVERY ACTION …
There is most definitely an opposite reaction, and in this one, it was Andover dropping its fourth straight and falling in a serious, serious situation as it comes to the postseason.
“Tough week for us,” said Andover coach Dan Grams, who was entrusted with keeping the Warrior minds on baseball yesterday despite the prom on their agenda last night.
It gets no easier for the Warriors, who still need one victory to qualify.
Tuesday, they’ll get the second half of Central’s left-right pitching punch when Liam Doherty and the Raiders host Andover.
Everett (11-5) and Peabody (16-3) close out the schedule.
For a second, I’d like to take a second to heap some praise on Grams and the Warrior boosters, who put out, easily, the best baseball program in the region.
Sharp, high-quality color head shots of every player, team shots and high-quality action photos fill the program. It gets an “A.” For the “A+” next year, please include the season schedule.
STREAK ENDS AT 24
North Reading’s win streak dating back into last year was ended by Masconomet, 2-1, in a pitcher’s battle between two of the best in the CAL, Speros Varinos and R.J. Warnock yesterday.
“I’m not unhappy with the loss, we played well,” said Hornets coach Frank Carey, who admitted earlier in the year that he wasn’t looking forward to hitting the state tourney with no losses on the docket. “Two good teams, two excellent pitchers, going after each other. They hit the ball better in the clutch than we did.
“As I told (first-year Masco coach T.J.) Baril, it was a good win for you, and a good lost for us.”
North Reading still claims sole possession of the CAL large title as it awaits the Nipper Clancy Tournament next weekend in Lynn.
ODDS AND ENDS
Talk about moving day. When the Reggies’ Juan Maldonado went 4 for 4 this week, hitting for the cycle, he raised the average from .271 to .327 – a jump of 56 points. …