Before this season, the last time Medford won the Greater Boston League baseball title was 2001. The Mustangs (15-3) put an end to a 12-year drought, and coach Mike Nestor believes his team’s success is due to pitching and chemistry.
“We only graduated one starting player last year. These kids worked hard all offseason and put time and effort into it. We’ve got a unique blend of upper- and lowerclassmen,” said Nestor.
Two upperclassmen who have played major roles are pitchers John Lavoie and Ryan Covelle.
Lavoie owns a 4-1 record while Covelle is 4-0. They have eight of Medford’s 15 wins.
“John is a true ace,” said assistant coach Ryan Kozul. “He’s a very smart and crafty pitcher but he’s also fiercely competitive. Even on days when he may not have his best stuff, we know as a team that he’s going to battle to give us a chance to win.”
Lavoie has committed to Saint Anselm College. Kozul thinks he will fit right in.
“A lot of schools missed the boat on him during the recruiting process, but I know his game will really translate well to the next level. He loves to prove people wrong . . . Saint Anselm is getting a stud,” said Kozul.
Covelle started his high school career at Medford before transferring to Malden Catholic. But Covelle returned to the Mustangs for his junior season and has been “lights out,” according to Nestor.
“He’s been our No. 2 guy all year . . . Lavoie, Chris Hayes, and Covelle have been three solid starters for us,” said Nestor.
Covelle pitched the Mustangs to their GBL-clinching victory over Malden May 16. He struck out 13 batters and gave up just four hits.
Hayes is 3-0 this year with 25 strikeouts and a 2.04 ERA.
Such quality pitching has made it easy for Medford to play well defensively, said Nestor. The Mustangs are allowing fewer than three runs per game.
“When these kids are in the game, they’re gaming . . . You want to coach kids like this,” said Nestor.
Another Malden Catholic transfer, catcher Jake Porrazzo, is batting .421 with three home runs, 24 RBIs, and nine stolen bases.
“If we keep getting players back from MC, we’ll be golden,” joked Nestor.
“They’re doing everything that we ask of them. If a situation calls for a sacrifice, we sacrifice and they don’t mind. They understand the game. We want to get [players] on, over, and in,” said Nestor.
The Mustangs have done that often this season, scoring an average of seven runs per contest. Nestor was not shy about what winning the league championship meant to him and the program.
“This is a huge monkey off our back,” he said. “We’ve got a great bunch of kids who really jell and all get along with each other and pick each other up. It’s almost a fantasy, really. Everything you want to happen as a coach, these guys are doing and we’re putting pressure on teams.”
Medford hopes to keep that pressure on during the state tournament. Nestor isn’t worried about the transition to nine-inning games.
“It’s all in the scheduling,” he said. “One disadvantage playing in the GBL is that we play seven innings and in the tournament, you go to nine. Local schools don’t tend to have a lot of pitching but I have pitching. We feel good but it all depends on the schedule lining up, so we’ll see.”
Belmont Hill, Governor’s lead ISL
The ISL title race, once between four teams, has become less cluttered. Belmont Hill and Governor’s are tied for first place at 11-2, with BB&N at 10-3. Governor’s won its two games last week, defeating Nobles and Thayer, while Belmont Hill went 3-0.
With just one week of ISL play left, Belmont Hill will finish the season against BB&N next Friday. Brooks will get the chance to play spoiler, taking on Governor’s on Monday and Belmont Hill two days later.
Mayor’s Cup at stake
Melrose and Malden will square off in all spring sports Tuesday in the third Mayor’s Cup at Pine Banks Park. The games are a celebration of the refurbished park the two communities share. There are two baseball fields (one grass and one turf) so they will play three levels of baseball, two levels of softball (Melrose has no freshman softball), and two levels of girls’ and boys’ lacrosse. The lax games are played on the turf field. The varsity games start about 5:30 p.m. and the track meet will start at 3:45. Points are given for wins, with freshman games getting 1 point, JV games 2, and varsity games 3.
Calling all stars
The end of the season means it’s time for league all-stars. League representatives are asked to e-mail all-stars, MVPs, and All-Scholastic nominations to Globe schools editor Bob Holmes at email@example.com.Alex Hall is a high school sports correspondent for The Boston Globe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AlexKHall.