Wicked Local staff photo/Kate Flock
Jack Sheehan connects with a pitch during Friday's 6-5 win over Dedham in 11 innings.
By Keith Pearson
Posted Apr. 17, 2014 @ 2:32 am
Updated at 2:41 AM
Looking through the roster of the Norwood High baseball team there are plenty of names that are familiar to those that follow the assorted youth summer leagues. Now, many of them are getting their first crack at the biggest stage.
Following the graduation of 19 seniors, the entire dugout seems filled with new faces. Only John Galvin and Joey Rydzewski return with significant varsity experience and they are being asked to guide a talented but inexperienced group in defense of the Bay State Conference Herget Division title.
Through the first quarter of the season, they Mustangs have seen had their ups and downs, but a 7-4 win over Wellesley on Monday had them above .500 at 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Bay State Conference heading into yesterday’s scheduled game with Natick.
Rydzewski, who will be playing at Babson College next year, anchors a deep pitching staff, but much like the rest of the team it is largely untested at the varsity level. Two youngsters Igoe is high on are sophomore left-handers Cam Ryan and Sean Mellen.
"Both of our sophomores, big, tall, strong lefties we’re very, very pleased with, all four of our sophomores," Igoe said, including Paul Galvin and Danny Sullivan.
Other newcomers on the mound include junior Chris King and sophomore Paul Galvin.
Mellen will also contribute in the outfield. Senior Jack Sheehan will be in center while junior Jake O’Rourke is in left and junior Brian Dittmeier is in right field. Sheehan is expected to give meaningful innings on the mound and seniors Ryan Stanton and Vinny Tarrara will also be in the outfield mix.
In the infield, junior Cam Davis has been at third and senior John Galvin is the shortstop, and he can also pitch if needed. On the right side, senior second baseman Matt Hajjar is versatile and has already been on the mound, and Rydzewski is at first. Scott O’Brien will take over when Rydzewski takes the ball, and Paul Galvin and Sullivan also figure to find some time in the infield.
Senior Mike Doliner and junior Kevin Hines will both be behind the plate, and Igoe said both bats figure to be in the lineup at all times, with Doliner potentially taking over at a corner infield position.
Other players on the roster include seniors Chris Amarilla and Jake Ryan, and juniors Denny Drummey, Mike McDonough, Chris Quinn, Brendan Trahon, and John Ryan.
"We’re going to play defense and we’re going to pitch," Igoe predicts. "If we hit we’ll be dangerous, if we don’t we’ll be mediocre."
The hitting is expected to come around as the weather heats up, but the approach at the plate was concerning to Igoe in getting shutout in two of the first three games of the season, including 12-0 in seven innings to Milton last Wednesday.
While Norwood prevailed 6-5 over Dedham on Friday in 11 innings, the Mustangs needed plenty of help as five of the runs were unearned.
O’Rourke lined a single to center with two outs in the top of the 11th to plate Rydzewski from second with the go-ahead run. Norwood trailed 5-2 heading into the eighth and was flustered all afternoon by Marauder starter Tyler Hache, but two errors led to three runs to it up.
Mellen fanned 10 and allowed one hit and three walks in five shutout innings of relief to pick up the victory.
Hache had the Mustangs off balance all game with an assortment of off-speed pitches. For years, teams have thrown junk-ballers at the Mustangs and Hache was nearly another to get a win allowing one earned run in 7 1/3 innings.
"I want to see Ainsley and Weymouth at 87, 88 (mph). This kills us," Igoe said. "We’re going to work on how to make adjustments to the speed. The speed shouldn’t matter. It’s got to come from within and change our approach at the plate. We’ll drill it into their head until they do it."
Against Dedham, Rydzewski gave Norwood a 1-0 lead in the fourth with an RBI single that scored Dittmeier. Doliner knocked in a run with a groundout in the fifth for a 2-1 lead. Dedham grabbed the lead with three in the fifth against Cam Ryan and Sheehan, and added another in the sixth.
Norwood tied it in the eighth, Dittmeier knocked in O’Rourke and a throw from third to second was off the mark leaving everyone safe. Senior Jake Ryan, hitting for Hines, delivered the tying hit, an RBI single to right center that also got past the outfielder, allowing Dittmeier to score from first.