Monday, April 3, 2017

Malden Catholic Edges Xaverian On Opening Day

By Nate Weitzer (@Nweitzer7)

MALDEN, Mass. – Offense was hard to come by on a chilly Opening Day at Malden Catholic, but Lancers junior righthander Nick Iannuzzi kept his team in the game against Catholic Conference rival Xaverian. 

Xaverian threatened with runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but Iannuzzi stranded all five Hawks before settling down to throw a complete-game shutout and power the Lancers to a 1-0 victory on their home turf.

“[Iannuzzi] has put the time in,” said Malden Catholic head coach Pat Driscoll. “He did it for us last year and he’s right back to it. I’m proud of him. He works hard and he deserved the opportunity to be out there and get that last out.”

As a sophomore, Iannuzzi worked his way into the Lancers rotation and earned a start in their first Division 1 State Tournament game, defeating Everett 2-0 in a pressure spot. 

While he admittedly felt some nerves as an Opening Day starter, Iannuzzi found his  rhythm in the middle innings while retiring eleven of the final twelve batters he faced.

“It’s opening day and I had a lot of nerves coming in, but I settled down,” said Iannuzzi. “I was feeling better each inning with my location and felt like I got stronger as the game went along.”

Hawks starter Dan Chapski (4 1/3 innings, 2 BB, H, 5 K, 63 pitches) was also excellent, but when he departed the game in the fifth inning the Lancers were able to rally with a pair of walks and a single off reliever Sean Birch.

With the bases loaded, MC cleanup hitter Jake Horrigan worked a full count before getting hit by a pitch to force home the sole run of the contest. 

“In the first game the advantage is usually to the pitcher but we did a good job of making [The Hawks] throw some pitches and having good at-bats,” said Driscoll. 

“I’ll take it. [Xaverian] is a great team and program, so any time we beat them it’s a good win.”

Ranked No. 19 in our preseason poll, the Lancers feel somewhat disrespected for a second consecutive year as they return plenty of talent to an already stocked roster.

Ianuzzi (CG, 3 BB, 2 H, 6 K, 98 pitches) leads a solid pitching staff while seniors Will Montgomery (0-1, BB, H, SB), Kellen Field (0-1, 2 BB, SB) and Horrigan (0-1, 2 HBP, RBI) provide some experience for Malden Catholic.

Those are our leaders,” Driscoll said of that trio. “They love baseball, they have character and they love leading. We have a good mix of young and older guys this year.”

For one of the younger guys in Iannuzzi, being overlooked by media outlets or potentially but the MIAA Division 1A “Super 8” selection committee later this spring serves as added motivation to perform during a brutal regular season schedule. 

“No one is really talking about us around here. Everyone has a bit of a chip on their shoulder, we joke about it but in our mind we know we’re serious and that we can make some noise this year,” said Iannuzzi. 

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