PLYMOUTH, Mass. -– Before Jack Connolly delivered a shutout for No. 1 Bridgewater-Raynham against No. 8 Silver Lake as the Trojans won 10-0 in the finals of the Brad Martin Tournament, the junior righty felt unease and anxiety about facing the Lakers.
“I was honestly a little bit nervous before the game,” said Connolly. “I was like ‘I have a weird feeling about this one.’ I knew our offense is very good and knew I needed to keep them off-balance and just throw strikes. I’ve watched a couple of their games and they like to do a lot of small ball. I know if you walk a kid against them, usually that runner scores. I really just wanted to focus on throwing strikes today.”
Connolly certainly threw a lot of strikes in the finals at Plymouth North High School, racking up 10 strikeouts while surrendering just one walk in the five-inning, mercy rule-shortened victory. He surrendered just three hits to improve to 4-0 on the mound this season.
“Jack certainly was the story for us first and foremost in this game,” said B-R coach John Kearney. “He just mixes things up so well. He was pitching into a stiff wind and still had some oomph on his fastball, and I think that really helped his off-speed stuff. That’s a good hitting team, and to shut them out is a tribute to Jack and how well he pitched today.”
Connolly calmed his own nerves by limiting the Lakers’ base runners and taking away their ability to play small ball, but even when Silver Lake finally registers its first hit in the fourth inning, his defense quickly erased the runner.
After Anthony Videtto singled into left, the following pitch squirted away from catcher Joe Freiday. Videtto took off for second and Freiday quickly sprung after the ball, scooped it up and one motion unloaded a strike to second base for an out that could only be recorded by a show of impressive arm strength.
“That was huge,” said a smirking Connolly, who is Freiday’s cousin. “I don’t know if Joey planned it –- to miss the ball and have it land right in front of him like that. His arm is unbelievable. Nobody steals on us. Finally, someone did, and he’ll never do it again.”
The only other time Connolly faced real trouble was in the top of the fifth when Dan Cole led off by getting hit by a pitch. Will Gallagher followed with a single.
Connolly worked a pop out to right, then a strike out. Tanner Bouchard singled into left to load the bases with two outs, but Connolly recorded his 10th strikeout to finish this one off.
“I just wasn’t feeling it, especially with the wind. My hat kept falling off,” laughed Connolly. “Really, my location just wasn’t there. I was overthrowing and thinking too much, but everybody has those innings.”
Added teammate Andrew Noviello: “That’s just the way he is. Even if he walks a couple guys, he’ll just come right back and get a couple guys out and just do his thing. That’s just Jack.”
Noviello notches four: Noviello seemed as unstoppable for the Trojans offense as Connolly was unhittable on the mound. He only registered one official at-bat, but scored four times to pace the B-R scoring. He went 1-for-1, with a triple, two walks and a hit-by-pitch in the win, stealing three bases and driving in a run for the Trojans.
“Noviello makes things happen,” added Kearney. “He was probably the key to our offense today as far as getting on base and his base running. He stole several bases and scored on a passed ball there that a lot of kids don’t score on. He kind of jumpstarts the offense.”
The rest of the Trojans (8-0) offense delivered a strong showing as well, led by two hits and three RBI from Joe Freiday, two hits and two RBI from Tyler Carey and a second straight game in which Conner Sullivan reach base in every plate appearance.
B-R only registered six hits in the win, but used an impressive approach at the plate that resulted in nine walks and five hit-by-pitch en route to the blowout win.
“You can’t overcome that,” said SL coach Ken Tocci. “B-R is probably the best team in the state, and when you give them extra base runners, and early on things were going their way anyway. When that happens, you’re in for a long day.”