BROCKTON, Mass. -– Alex Joyce welcomed the chance to hit with two strikes as top seeded Newton North outlasted fourth seeded Silver Lake, 8-5, in a second round winner’s bracket game of the Division 1A "Super 8" Tournament, at Campanelli Stadium.
“I think it helps me a lot because I know I have to swing at anything close,” the senior catcher said. “I just think swing and then see it out of his hand and read it in the dirt or read it high.”
Joyce certainly looked unfazed with two strikes in the fifth inning on Sunday, as he lined an 0-2 fastball into the right centerfield gap for a double. He came around to score the game’s tying run three batters later on a single by Curtis Beatrice.
“In that at-bat alone, I’d just missed the first two pitches,” Joyce said. “I just missed the fastball, then I just missed the slider. I was seeing the real well there. It was the third time around in the order, so I knew he was just throwing the fastball and slider and didn’t have a changeup or anything like that. I was just looking fastball and was ready to adjust. He left it over the plate a little bit and I just got my barrel on it.”
It wasn’t the only time Joyce succeeded with two strikes. In the first inning, he was down one ball and two strikes and fought back, fouling off two pitches to earn a walk. He added an RBI single in the sixth inning hitting with two strikes on him.
“He’s been doing that all year,” said Newton North coach Joe Siciliano. “Just great hand-eye coordination. I’d like to check his hits, because a lot of times he is behind in the count and fouling off and fouling off, then bingo. He’s kind of a little Wade Bogg-ish.”
Ball bounces Tigers' way: Newton North did the bulk of its damage in a sixth inning where every break seemed to go the Tigers’ way.
After a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and a single that bounced through the middle of the infield, the Tigers knocked SL starter Jason Johndrow out of the game. The Lakers called on Anthony Videtto, who pitched SL to an opening round win on Thursday, in an effort to get out of the inning.
“He had one inning in him today I thought,” said SL coach Kenny Tocci. “I used it there to try and get out of the jam. Whether or not he got out of it with the lead, that was his one and only inning. I just wanted to get out of that spot -– sometimes a save comes in the sixth or the seventh, its not always the ninth.
"I thought it was the right time to go to him, and they didn’t prove otherwise. They didn’t get the ball out of the infield on him, they just got the bounces.”
Without ever hitting the ball hard though, Newton North managed to push four runs across the plate. In the inning the Tigers had three infield hits, a pop-up that fell just beyond shortstop and a pop-up that was lost in the sun, to score their four runs.
“It’s all luck,” said Joyce. “That has nothing to with playing good baseball. When you’re playing well though, you just get those bounces sometimes.”
The Tigers gave themselves plenty of chances to get those bounces, largely because they proved to be tougher to get out as the game wore on. Johndrow racked up six strikeouts in the first four innings, but NN only struck out one more time in the game.
“Our hitters, we coach them to hit in practice, but they made some great adjustments, especially with two strikes,” said Siciliano.
Ben Porter had two hits, two runs and knocked in the eventual winning run for Newton North. John Little was on base four times and scored two runs, Kevin Alexy had two RBI and a run scored and Eric Mah added two hits to pace the Tigers on offense.
Pitching a plenty: One of the big concerns for every team throughout the double elimination tournament was pitching depth, but the Tigers showcased the pitching that earned them the No. 1 seed.
After going 15 innings in the opening round, Newton North turned to No. 3 starter Tommy Hodgson against Silver Lake. Hodgson worked the first four plus innings, surrendering one earned run before turning things over reliever and winning pitcher Spencer Anderson.
Anderson allowed two earned runs before turning things over to Dylan Sbordone, who worked 1-2/3 for the save.
“I have six kids I’m confident that I could put out there, because they’ve already pitched in clutch situations,” said Siciliano. “The big thing is we go nine innings (during the Bay State Conference regular season).
Lakers hit hard by missed opportunities: Silver Lake had runners on base for much of the game, rapping out 13 hits, but stranded 11 base runners and hit into two double plays in the loss.
“We had a lot of runners in scoring position, we just couldn’t get the timely hit when we needed it,” said Tocci. “We played real well at times, and some things just didn’t go our way. I don’t think the moment was too big for these guys, nothing in that regard. It’s just baseball. We hit the ball harder, it just didn’t fall in.”
Videtto had two hits, a run scored and an RBI, Matt Cauchon and Josh O’Neill both scored twice and Adam Gay went 3-for-4 with a walk and a two-RBI double for the Lakers. Will Gallagher, Brad Chandler and Ryne McNeilly each added two hits in the loss.