Braintree native hits it off at BC
Anthony Melchionda has started 100-plus games the last two seasons for the Boston College baseball team. The Thayer Academy graduate hit .358 as a sophomore and led the Eagles in hits, doubles, triples, and RBIs last season.
A legitimate pro prospect, no doubt. The senior infielder from Braintree, however, has not yet been drafted by a Major League team. He hopes that will change with the amateur draft in June.
His performance Saturday night in the annual exhibition game in Fort Myers against the Red Sox can only help.
Although he was hitless in three plate appearances, the 6-foot, 195-pound shortstop sparkled in the field, flashing the leather when he charged a high hopper and threw out Nick Punto at first to halt a Sox rally.
“The boys had a lot of fun, and Melchionda in particular made an unbelievable play fielding that ball and getting the out,’’ said BC coach Mike Gambino. “We get a lot of big crowds in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but to play on the Red Sox’ brand-new field in front of 10,000 fans and on NESN was special. The boys did a great job.’’
The Eagles dropped a 6-3 decision to the Sox, but started the Southern portion of their season with a 6-3 record.
“It’s always fun to play against those guys, and it was even more special to put a couple of runs across and make it kind of a close game,’’ said Melchionda, off to a .394 start at the plate with a team-leading five doubles and nine RBIs.
Melchionda cemented his spot in the lineup as a sophomore when he started all 58 games. His 78 hits were the fifth-most for a single season in program history. Last season, starting 49 of 50 games, the majority at third base, he paced the Eagles with 55 hits, 17 doubles, three triples, and 34 RBIs. Although his batting average dropped to .304, Melchionda recorded 15 multi-hit games and delivered a walk-off double in the 11th inning against top-ranked Virginia.
Melchionda is shouldering more responsibility as a captain this season, and that is one reason why Gambino shifted him to short, so he could add senior leadership in the middle of the infield.
“He made the transition look easy,’’ said Gambino. “When you look at him, you might not think his feet are quick enough to play the middle, but his pre-pitch positioning and his first step is excellent. Everyone knows when the ball is hit on the ground to shortstop that it’s an out. That’s the most important thing you look for in any infielder.
“In some ways he’s like having another coach out there. He’s constantly teaching and making sure everyone is on the same page. He’s a guy that is always trying to learn, and he leads by example by how hard he works.’’
As for playing baseball beyond Boston College, Melchionda has high hopes.
“I will definitely pursue playing pro ball, and I’d love to get picked up by a club at the end of the year,’’ he said. “I’ve had baseball in my blood since I was born, right from Braintree American Little League.’’
Gambino has no doubt that Gambino will enjoy success at the next level.
“He can play three infield positions and can be a utility guy and play where they need him. I’d be willing to bet that he can play Double A ball,’’ said the coach. “Once you get to that level, anything can happen.’’
Three earn places in the spotlight
Walpole’s Caroline Stedman (inset) is putting together a magnificent senior season for the Amherst women’s basketball program, the defending Division 3 national champion. The NESCAC Player of the Year, Stedman (15 points) propelled the Lord Jeffs (29-0) into the Sweet 16 with a 61-48 second-round win over Babson on Saturday. Amherst will host York College (Pa.) in a sectional matchup Friday. She is also one of 10 finalists for the Jostens Trophy, awarded for excellence on the court, the classroom, and in the community. . . .
Junior forward Sarah Collins (Weymouth) had 12 points and 15 boards for Babson (26-3), which was ousted from the tournament for the fourth-straight year by Amherst. . . .
Sophomore forward Bill Carey (Weymouth) scored the lone goal in Stonehill’s 4-1 loss to Saint Anselm in the Northeast-10 Conference hockey championship on Saturday. It marked the third consecutive NE-10 title for St. A’s, which is led by junior captain Tim King of Weymouth, who assisted on the Hawks’ final goal. Carey and teammate Matt Doherty, a senior defenseman from Milton, were named to the all-tournament team.
John R. Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.