Josh Desai (inset) was a senior captain and MVP of the Shrewsbury High baseball team in 2011, a season that included a 13-strikeout no-hitter against North Middlesex Regional.
Despite his success, Desai thought his playing days were winding down.
“I didn’t anticipate taking baseball to the next level at Suffolk University,” said Desai. “I wondered whether I’d have time because of studies and possible internships.
“But my high school coach, Lee Diamantopoulos, encouraged me to keep going. He said I could pitch at the college level.”
Suffolk coach Cary McConnell and Desai’s current teammates with the Lynn-based North Shore Navigators of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League couldn’t agree more.
Desai was a hard-luck starter as a freshman at Suffolk this spring, finishing with a 1-4 record in 10 games, but he compiled an impressive 2.77 earned run average. His 61⅔ innings led all pitchers in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. He struck out 53 hitters, walked 27, and pitched two complete games.
Originally offered a temporary contract by the Navigators, Desai has signed for the season after an injury to another pitcher, and he has responded with outstanding performances in his first two starts.
Desai, who said he will miss his summers with the Shrewsbury American Legion Post 397 team, went eight shutout innings in his winning debut against the Wachusett Dirt Dogs, allowing three hits with six strikeouts and no walks.
Last Sunday against the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide, he went six innings, allowing one earned run and six hits with two strikeouts and two walks, but did not factor in the decision. His ERA: a mere 0.64.
“I didn’t expect to have such a big role my freshman season and although I lost my first three games, one of them was a complete game, 1-0 defeat, and I felt I made some quality starts after that,” said Desai, who is focusing on his command and cutting down on his walks.
Suffolk (20-24-1 overall, 11-5 GNAC) advanced to the conference title game.
“Josh’s record was misleading,” said McConnell. “At times he didn’t get some run support, but he took the ball when we asked him to and he’s just going to get better.”
An Everett native who moved to Shrewsbury as an eighth-grader, Desai said he has the genes to add more height to his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame.
“My uncle is 6-8 and my brother is 6-4, so I have a little growing to do. I hope to get to 6-foot-5,” said Desai, who is living temporarily with his grandmother in Malden to be closer to Fraser Field, where the Navigators play their home games.
“The Futures league has been a great experience,” he said. “I’m playing with guys who were all team leaders in the past and that exposure will help me. I had a conversation with the Navs pitching coach, Steve Palazzolo, who played at the Triple A level, and told him one of my concerns was I didn’t have a lot of wins in college.
“He told me it’s not the wins that really matter, it’s doing your job and keeping your team in the game.”'
The Suffolk roster included two King Philip Regional grads, sophomore All-New England infielder Jake Cintolo (inset) of Wrentham, who tied a Rams single-season record with 17 doubles, and sophomore outfielder Mac Jacobson of Norfolk, as well as freshman pitcher Eli Libby of Sudbury (Lincoln-Sudbury Regional).
B’nai B’rith honors Jewish athletes
Four area seniors received major awards at last Sunday’s 32d annual New England Sports Lodge B’nai B’rith All-Scholastic Breakfast honoring Jewish high school athletes.
The Joe Linsey Scholar-Athlete Award was presented to senior Emilie Katz of Newton (Buckingham Browne & Nichols) and senior Aaron Revzin (Needham High); Tory Waldstein (Needham High) was corecipient of the Saul Nechtem All-Around Athlete Award, and Alison Berkowitz (Newton North) was corecipient of the Eli Schleifer Citizenship Award.
Katz, a superb field hockey goalkeeper, will attend Yale. Revzin, who helped lead the Rockets to a pair of state boys’ tennis championships, is headed to Amherst College; girls’ lacrosse and basketball star Waldstein is going to Harvard, and Berkowitz, a field hockey and lacrosse standout, will attend Olin College of Engineering in Needham.
Here and there
Pat Myers of Wrentham, David Russell of Wellesley, Chris Rogers of Needham, Eric Nilsson of Weston, and Gabrielle Shishkoff and Aaron Gustafson of Franklin, members of the Bluefish Swim Club, will compete at the US Olympic Trials in Omaha this week.
Franklin Pierce University graduate student James Roche of Arlington made the American Baseball Coaches Association All-America first team. A center fielder who previously played three seasons at Bentley University, Roche set a program single-season record with 17 home runs, batted a career-high .361, and led the Ravens with 61 runs batted in.
Ryan Anger (St. John’s High), Chris Calvanese of Norfolk (Xaverian), Faisal Kanaan (Natick High), and Jake Pilecki (Acton-Boxborough Regional) have committed to play football at Bentley. Anger (6-3, 265), an offensive lineman, was also the Central Mass. shot put champion; Calvanese (6-4, 205) is a two-time team MVP who played three positions; Kanaan (6-3, 180) was a quarterback who will move to wide receiver, and Pilecki (6-3, 220) was a force on the Colonials defensive line.