By Jess Thomas
The Nashoba Regional High School baseball team already won the Mid-Wach B title outright with a 9-1 league record this season, but after falling in consecutive games, the team was looking to get back in the win column against Holy Name.
On Friday, May 22, the Chieftains defeated the Napoleons, 5-0, behind a dominant start by senior captain Greg Cavaioli, improving the team record to 13-4 overall.
“If somebody had asked me ‘would you be at 13-4 right now,’ I’m not sure I’d have thought that with the changes that we had to make,” head coach Chuck Schoolcraft said. “But these kids have stepped up.”
The change in which Schoolcraft was speaking was the loss of a number of seniors last season, who were talented leaders of Nashoba baseball.
But the team has not seemed to miss a beat with efficient pitching and plenty of offense to win 76 percent of its games so far in 2015.
Cavaioli was so locked in on Friday that Holy Name didn’t record a base hit until the fifth inning. He hit a batter in the third, but threw 4.2 no-hit innings, keeping the Naps off balance all evening.
“He (Cavaioli) did really, really good,” Schoolcraft said. “He actually wasn’t feeling right today, but he battled and battled and battled and got us through six innings. I can’t say enough about that effort today on his part.”
Cavaioli only allowed two hits and one walk while striking out eight hitters in his six innings of work on the mound.
The only real threat for Holy Name came in the fifth when they broke up the no-hit bid with back-to-back singles to right field, giving the Naps first and second with two outs.
Cavaioli induced a line drive to shortstop, and junior Ethan Sprague used his quick reflexes to nab the ball as it was rising to end the frame and keep the Naps off the board.
Nashoba’s defense behind Cavaioli was on point all game, as the club turned two double plays on the day.
After Holy Name reached base for the first time in the third on a hit batter, the Chieftains immediately turned a 5-4-3 around the horn double play.
In the sixth inning, the first batter for the Naps reached on an error, but was erased promptly on a 4-6-3 nifty twin killing.
Cavaioli recorded his eighth and final strikeout, stranded two baserunners in the sixth to end his night on the bump.
Senior captain Charlie Ramsland shut the door on the Naps with two strikeouts in the final inning.
On offense, Sprague and Cavaioli led the way, getting the Chieftains on the board early.
Sprague ripped a double to right-center field to lead off the game, and scored two batters later on an RBI groundout for Ramsland.
Cavaioli reached on an error and was driven home by an Alex Borsari triple to right field, giving Nashoba a 2-0 edge after one.
Sprague led off the third inning as well with a single to left. He stole second base, and two batters later, Cavaioli drove him home with an RBI double to left field. Nashoba led 3-0 at that point.
Nashoba piled on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to secure the 5-0 victory.
Sprague finished the day 2-for-3 with two runs and Cavaioli had two runs and an RBI.
Schoolcraft has been thrilled with the effort of Sprague at the top of the order all season.
“The kid’s (Sprague) on fire right now,” Schoolcraft said. “He’s probably in the .400’s after this game. He’s a great leadoff guy. He’s got wicked good bat speed, good speed on the bases and he can hit with a little bit of power.”
This was an important win for Nashoba after falling by scores of 3-1 to Hudson and 1-0 to Westborough the previous two games.
The last three games of the season against Lincoln-Sudbury, Wachusett and St. John’s are all going to be good challenges for Nashoba to see where they stand for the playoffs.
“Wachusett and St. John’s are going to be in the playoffs in Central Mass – teams we could be playing- and Lincoln-Sudbury is a perennial good Eastern Mass. team,” Schoolcraft said. “So it was good to get the win in today (Friday) because we didn’t want to go in on a three-game losing streak for those three games.”
Overall, Schoolcraft feels that his squad has answered all questions surrounding the team before the season.
“There were a lot of question marks with this team and I think they’ve answered,” Schoolcraft said. “I think they’ve played well and I have no complaints.”