Huskies nine lose to Middletown, 1-0, in D-II quarterfinals

Photos and story by Richard W. Dionne, Jr.
Posted 6/20/21

Wave's pitcher Ryan Andrade struck out 11 as Middletown edged Mt. Hope, 1-0, in the D-II quarterfinals at Guiteras Field on Thursday afternoon. The Huskies ended their season with a 14-2 …

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Huskies nine lose to Middletown, 1-0, in D-II quarterfinals

Posted

Wave's pitcher Ryan Andrade struck out 11 as Middletown edged Mt. Hope, 1-0, in the D-II quarterfinals at Guiteras Field on Thursday afternoon. The Huskies ended their season with a 14-2 record. 

“I don’t think we expected to be doing this well,” said Mt. Hope ace, Ethan Leary about the Huskies go undefeated most of the season. “We really wanted to win this game. It was anticipated. It was going to be the toughest game. We all just really emptied our gas tanks out there and really did everything we could to try to win. And it just didn’t go our way.”

 

Middletown ace

Andrade was masterful using a 90 plus, mph fastball and a sweeping curve to stymie Huskies hitters, who managed just four hits in seven innings. 

Mt. Hope starter, Brad Denson, lasted two innings before being replaced by Huskies ace, Ethan Leary. 

Denson, a sophomore, hit the first batter he faced, but got out of the first inning unscathed. 

Denson struck out Waves shortstop, Ken Firlings for the first out of the second inning. But, center fielder, Caleb Leys, hit a chopper to shortstop Ryan Nappi and the ball hopped over his shoulder into the outfield. Denson walked Middletown catcher Matt Williams and Coach Mazzarella, had seen enough. With the way Andrade was pitching, he brought in his ace, Leary, to try and get the job done. 

Leary dueled with Patrick Andrade, and on a three and two pitch, the Waves right fielder hit a low laser towards second baseman, Parker Camelo. The sophomore dove forward and snagged the ball before it hit the ground. Camelo immediately rose to his feet and fired to first baseman, Matt Brackett, for an inning ending double play. The Huskies and their hundred, or so, fans went wild. 

Leary, a senior captain, pitched well in the loss. The righty struck out 6 and allowed just one run on three hits. Leary ended the season with a 2-2 record, struck out 39 batters with a 1.99 ERA. 

“The kid pitched his ass off,” Connor said of his teammate. “I respect the hell out of that kid. He’s my friend for life.” 

“I’m so proud of the way Ethan came out and competed,” said Coach Mazzarella. “He left every single piece of being he has, out on that mound. That’s just who he is. He’s done that for four years with me. He’s always been program first, Leary second and that speaks volumes about his character.”

The Middletown run came in the fifth inning. Williams hit a soft line drive to center field to lead off the inning with a single. Huskies centerfielder Dave Benevides ran in to catch it, but lost the ball for a second and it flew over his glove. Patrick Andrade bunted Williams over to second base. Leary raced in to pick up the bunt and threw to Brackett for the first out of the inning. The Huskies righty struck out Waves nine hitter, Jacob Mello on three pitches, for the second out of the inning and almost did the same to Middletown senior leadoff hitter Ben Nelson to get out of the inning. But Nelson smacked a two and two pitch to centerfield for a single and Williams came around to score from second base, to give the Waves a slim, 1-0, lead. Leary got Waves two hitter, Pierce to fly out to Benevides in centerfield for the third out of the inning. 

The Huskies ace bared down the rest of the way, mixing his stealthy fastball and breaking ball. Middletown had just one baserunner the rest of the way and he struck out two in the seventh as he gave the Huskies a chance to come back and tie the game.

Mt. Hope Opportunities  

Mt. Hope had a few opportunities to scratch out a run against Andrade, whom it was rumored to be getting a look by the Texas Rangers. 

“He was no joke,” said Connor of Andrade after the game. “He had good stuff. He was sitting low 90’s. But you know, we put it in play and had a few chances. And they made the plays that they needed to make. Got to give credit where credit’s due.” 

The right hander who set the Huskies down 1-2-3 in the first, walked Connor and senior first baseman, Matt Brackett, to start off the second inning. Andrade then got right fielder, AJ Jones, to pop up to first base for the first out. The tall lanky pitcher with a mop of curly black hair strewn from under his hat, reared back and struck out designated hitter, Matt Gale and Denson to end the threat. 

Jones reached first base via error in the bottom of the fifth inning, when he lined a grounder to shortstop, raced down the line to beat the throw which trickled through Pierce’s outstretched glove. Safely on first, the sophomore took a lead and got caught in a rundown when Andrade attempted to pick him off first base. Jones, caught leaning towards second base, couldn’t get back in time, so he took off towards second base. Pierce threw to Nelson at second and Jones was caught in the middle. Nelson threw back to Pierce and he ran and tagged Jones out. Pierce screamed in celebration and Jones punched the air as he walked off the field. Andrade finished up the inning by striking out Gale and getting Leary to ground to first to retire the side.

Sixth inning

The Huskies best chance to score, came in the sixth inning. Huskies centerfielder Dave Benevides singled to lead off the inning. Andrade struck out sophomore second baseman, Parker Camelo for the first out. Catcher, Jack Standish, then lined a hit to left field, giving Mt. Hope runners at first and second with one out. Nappi, the Huskies three hitter, hit a towering fly ball, just behind shortstop, that fell to the ground as three Middletown players converged on the ball. The home plate umpire quickly ruled it an infield fly, for the second out and the Huskies runners stayed in place. Connor stepped to the plate with two outs and hit an 0-2, blooper over shortstop for a single. Coach Mazzarella held up Benevides at third base as Waves left fielder, Leys, ran in to retrieve the ball. The bases were loaded wih two outs, for senior first baseman, Matt Brackett. The lefty worked a two and two count against Andrade. Knowing he was going to get the curve, the lefty held up on his swing and fisted a grounder towards the hole, between first and second, but Nelson scooped it up and threw to first for the third out. 

Seventh

In the seventh, Andrade got Jones to ground out to shortstop. Gale struck out and Leary hit a hard fly ball to right fielder Patrick Andrade who made the catch to end the contest and the Huskies playoff run. Middletown began celebrating in the infield as Leary walked back down the first base line. The senior eyed Ryan and detoured over to Andrade to congratulate him. The two seniors hugged. 

Notes:

Goodbye to the seniors

Mt. Hope seniors Ethan Leary, Cam Connor, Ryan Nappi, Matt Brackett, Dave Benevides, Andrew Aubin, Nick Marsili, Frank Ferrara and Seth Cloutier, all played their last game for the Huskies.

“It’s always tough to see the seniors leave,” said Huskies head coach Mike Mazzarella. “These seniors left the program in a lot better shape than when they got here. That’s been a trend for us. We’ve been lucky to have a strong program.” 

“I love all these guys,” said third baseman Cam Connor. “These guys played their heart’s out. I’m going to miss these guys to death.”

Pitching prospects for 2022

The Huskies have some very good pitchers coming back next season. Sophomore, AJ Jones, is at the top of the list. The big righty has a legit fast ball and started and pitched out of the bullpen for the Huskies this season. He had a season record of 5-0, with three saves, 57 strike outs and an ERA of 0.87 in 31 innings. Junior Dayton Van Amberg pitched mostly out of the bullpen, had a season record of 4-0, with 25 strike outs, three walks, and an ERA of 1.96. Junior Matt Terceiro, sophomore Brad Denson and freshman Rocco Ferolito will all add depth to the staff next season.  

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