Friday, May 11, 2018

North Andover's Super Staff Keeps Rolling Behind Sapienza

By Matt Feld (@MattyFeld612)

If one of the most important characteristics of a Super Eight team is pitching depth, then North Andover certainly has that box checked. 

On Friday afternoon, Anthony Sapienza spun a complete game shutout, scattering just seven singles and walking no one as North Andover defeated Lowell, 4-0, in a Merrimack Valley cross-divisional game at North Andover High School.

The combination of Sapienza, ace Sebastian Keane, and Charlie Jodka have shut down some of the top teams in the Merrimack Valley including Central Catholic, Andover, and now Lowell.
“Me, Sebastian (Keane) and Charlie (Jodka) have made up a great staff so far,” said Sapienza. “We try to keep the defense awake by working quickly, which leads to confidence on offense because we’re back in so quick.” 

The Scarlet Knights held a 4-0 lead entering the top of the seventh but back-to-back hits from Ben Asselin and Emil Mora immediately got Sapienza into trouble.

Sapienza, however, wasted no time getting out of the jam first inducing a 4-6-3 double play before generating a ground ball to third base to seal the complete game shutout.

Sapienza faced just one three-ball count all game.

Behind Sapienza, meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights defense was flawless.

Manning the second base duties Keane made a pretty stab on the backhand for a putout in the sixth inning and began the 4-6-3 double play that got Sapienza through the seventh.

Over at shortstop McElroy corralled a ball deep in the hole before firing a strike to first to retire Asselin in the fourth.

“We work really hard at the defensive aspect,” said North Andover coach Todd Dulin. “I mean Jake (McElroy) at shortstop probably has the best hand-eye coordination at someone who has played here and then Sebastian Keane) at second is a special player.” 

North Andover jumped out in the bottom of the first with a pair of runs.

Jake McElroy singled, stole second, and scored on Keane’s RBI single to give the Scarlet Knights a 1-0 lead. Keane kept the pressure on swiping second and crossing home plate on an errant throw to make it 2-0 North Andover.

Sapienza wiggled out of a jam in the top of the second leaving a pair stranded allowing the Scarlet Knights offense to go back to work.

Jack Morin and Thomas Finn collected base hits and Joe Quinlan dropped a two-run single into centerfield to make it 4-0 North Andover.

“We’re still a very young team, so we have to be aggressive,” said Dulin. “When we sit back we’re in trouble. We want to make the opponent throw us out.

The four runs proved to be more than enough for Sapienza who was in cruise control from the start of the second inning on.

After allowing the first two to reach base in the second, the right-hander retired 15 of the next 16 hitters he faced through the sixth inning.

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