With this trio of pitchers, Walpole has mound covered
Runs will be at a premium this spring for the opponents of the Walpole baseball team.
Fresh off a 17-win season and an impressive run in last year’s MIAA Division 1A Super 8 tournament, the Rebels return talented seniors Cam Schlittler, Matt Donato, and Matt Chamoun , a formidable trio of righthanders who spearheaded a staff that allowed just two runs per game.
Through three games this season Schlittler, Donato, and Chamoun have combined to pitch all 21 innings, allowing only a pair of runs.
“We feel as though we’re going to be in every game we play,” said Walpole coach Chris Costello. “All our pitchers are pretty seasoned and pretty talented. If the offense shows up we’re a really tough team to beat.”
Schlittler and Donato broke out as juniors last spring, establishing themselves as one of the best 1-2 combinations in the state. A Globe All-Scholastic, Schlittler posted a 7-1 record with a dazzling 1.11 ERA and 84 strikeouts over 63 innings. Meanwhile, the 6-foot-2-inch Donato fired five complete-game victories, while Chamoun displayed his unique versatility as Costello used him as a spot starter, reliever, and closer.
Each pitcher possesses a different style when it comes to getting guys out.
“Chamoun is really good with his curveball and Matt’s really good at changing up his speeds,” Schlittler said. “I like to stick more with the fastball and make them try and hit me first.”
A lanky 6-6 righthander committed to Northeastern, Schlittler is the definitive ace of the staff. He often overwhelms hitters with his tight breaking ball and a fastball that touches 90 miles per hour. The combo leads to many double-digit strikeout performances for the reigning Bay State Herget Division MVP.
Donato has a mid-80s fastball but thrives on his four-pitch mix. Headed to Tufts University in the fall, the Bay State Conference All-Star’s arsenal features a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider, which helps him keep hitters off balance and go deep into games. Chamoun usually relieves Schlittler and Donato and quiets hitters with his hammer curve.
“It helps us out when you have Schlittler going and pumping and then you have me come in and it kind of screws up the batter,” Chamoun said. “They were just hitting a 90-m.p.h. fastball and now they have a curveball moving everywhere. It’s nice. I get to close a lot of games for these guys.”
The trio has played together since Little League. They constantly push each other to become better pitchers, whether it is during band exercises in offseason workouts or strategizing pitch sequence in the dugout.
“Every inning we talk about pitches, what was the plan, what we were thinking,” Donato said. “We all help each other out.”
Added Schlittler, “We have a special bond and no matter what we’re going to give each other our opinions.”
All three pitchers rack up strikeouts, but they also excel thanks to a strong and talented defense behind them, led by senior shortstop Jack Magane and senior outfielder Matt Falvey.
“I think it feels great to know that I have so many kids behind me that can make every play,” Chamoun said. “It gives me the confidence to throw strikes.”
Ranked second to start the season in the Globe’s Top 20, the Walpole staff has picked up where it left off last season, securing shutout wins over Norwood and Newton North before falling 2-0 at Weymouth on Wednesday.
Schlittler and Chamoun combined for a two-hit masterpiece in the season opener against Norwood and Donato threw seven scoreless innings before logging a walk-off single in the victory over North.
Schlittler took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Wildcats but surrendered two runs (one earned) in a complete game loss while striking out 10.
Whether it is Schlittler, Donato, or Chamoun on the bump, the Rebels will have an advantage.
“They obviously have some god given ability but they’ve invested a lot of time and effort for 12 months a year for the last 3 years,” Costello said.
After being eliminated from the Super 8 by former BC High ace and current University of Virginia pitcher Mike Vasil last spring, the Rebels have high hopes for the 2019 campaign with Schlittler, Donato, and Chamoun leading the way on the mound.
“It’s Super 8 or bust,” Donato said. “We know our goal.”
■ BC High’s 40-year coach Norm Walsh became the eighth coach in state history to record 600 wins when the Eagles edged Malden Catholic, 2-1, in eight innings on Wednesday.
Walsh becomes enshrined in a group with this milestone that includes Frank Carey (North Reading, 736), Emile Johnson (Leominster, 722), Dan Dulchinos ( Chicopee Comprehensive, 639), Tom Suchanek (Greenfield, 630), Peter Ambrose (Cardinal Spellman, 628), Bill Pettingel (Newburyport, 616), and Jim Curtin (Burlington, 612).
“The opportunity to coach as long as I have and the teams that I’ve coached, it’s remarkable,” said Walsh, who was inducted into the National High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2018.
“But the players over the years have been the ones who have executed.”
■ New Central Catholic coach John Sexton recorded his first win as a head coach when the Raiders edged Peabody, 3-0, on Wednesday . . . St. Mary’s and sixth-ranked Austin Prep suspended their Wednesday matchup in the 10th inning with the score tied, 2-2. The game will be resumed at a date to be determined . . . Saugus senior and UMass commit Todd Tringale struck out 17 in a complete-game shutout of Stoneham in a 1-0 win.
Games to watch
■ Friday, North Andover at Arlington, 4 — The Spy Ponders will look to start the season on a high note as they host the No. 7 Scarlet Knights (1-0).
■ Saturday, Mansfield at Franklin, 6 — The reigning Super 8 champion Panthers host a Mansfield program that is coming off its first Super 8 appearance.
■ Monday, Newton North vs. St. John’s Prep, 10 a.m. — The top-ranked Eagles (2-0) have a tough task ahead of them on Patriots Day as the young and hungry Tigers (2-1) come to Danvers.
■ Monday, Walpole at Xaverian, 11 a.m. — The clash between the No. 9 Rebels (2-1) and the No. 4 Hawks (2-1) is a potential Super 8 game.
■ Tuesday, BC High at Lincoln-Sudbury, 10 a.m. — The Warriors (3-0) hot start has propelled them into the Top 20 but they will have their hands full with the No. 2 Eagles (4-0) visiting.