A Tale of Two Seasons: Baseball Recap

A Tale of Two Seasons: Baseball Recap

An incredible turnaround season for the Rockets came to an end against the Hopkinton Hillers in the first round of the MIAA D2 State Tournament. The Rockets closed out the season with a 10-11 record, placing third in the Middlesex-Liberty Division.

 

Ready for Liftoff

The Rockets came into the season eager to repeat as Middlesex League Liberty Division champions. They won their opening day game 10-0 against the Stoneham Spartans on April 9th. On the road, the Rockets pitched a one-hitter led by Ryan Marino (‘25) and Mikey Baylis (‘24), who came in relief in the top of the fifth. Will Moore (‘24) and Isaac Robinson (‘26) both had multiple hits at the plate, leading to a Rocket victory. 

After the road win, the Rockets lost their home opener against Belmont, 2-0 after a dominant start by Ethan LeBovidge (‘25). He struck out four batters in six innings, only giving up two runs in the effort. Luckily, the Rockets were able to secure wins against Medford and Arlington by multiple runs respectively. Against Medford, outfielder Joey Ciccariello (‘24) drove in three runs in his multi-hit game. Across the two game stretch, right fielder Nate Vitarisi (‘26) drove in four runs. This young team eagerly awaited the chance to rise to the occasion when it mattered most.

Asteroids Incoming

Following a 3-1 start, they hit a cold patch in which the team lost seven one run games across the nine game stretch. Their first game on the road against Winchester April 19th. The Rockets held a one run lead into the seventh inning, unfortunately short lived as Winchester tied the game. The nail-biter of a game went into extra innings in which Winchester walked off the Rockets, 11-10. 

The Reading Rockets were very close in many of these games, one being against Lexington at home on May 7th. They were leading 1-0 in the fifth inning from a base hit by Matt Fichera (‘24). Unfortunately, they allowed two runs in the seventh inning and could not secure the win.

The Rockets up to this point had a losing record, but they never went down without a fight. Luckily, the loss against Lexington would be their last one-run loss of the season. In the midst of their struggles, the Rockets knew a hot streak could get the team into the Division II playoffs. 

Safe Landing and Mission Complete!

When asked about how the team got through their midseason struggles, Coach Blanchard replied, “We just understood that sometimes, things don’t bounce our way or we don’t have the execution we need to win those types of games. The kids realize that as long as they continue to work hard at practice and come back with a good attitude, that because they were so close and they were all winnable games, almost in a weird way, it gave us hope we could turn it around. It was just going to take a big hit or take a big pitching performance to get it going in the other direction. That’s what happened.”

The Rockets went 6-1 to close out the regular season. They collected their fifth win against Winchester at home on May 13th. Sam Clark (‘26) had a three run double contributing to the eight runs the Rockets collectively scored. Starter Ryan Marino (‘25) had an excellent outing at home striking out eight batters across a five inning start. Winchester took the lead in the 6th with a five run inning. The Rockets were able to walk it off, 8-7, as they scored three runs in the seventh. Their performance against Winchester seemed like it lit a fire inside of the Rockets, almost like a light switch.

Alex Merkle (‘26) awaits an at-bat against the Hopkinton Hillers. Photo Courtesy of WillGMedia.

The next four games were competitive wins for the Rockets. Pitching was a key factor in the win against Lynn Classical on May 18th. Will Moore (‘24) pitched a scoreless five innings while Mikey Baylis (‘24) came in relief in the sixth. Both pitchers played a crucial part in the 2-0 away win. When asked about the mindset pitchers need to have in crucial situations, Coach Blanchard said, “We talked about giving ourselves a chance, throwing strikes, allow the defense to help work with everything that we’re doing… We had a lot of games in a short period of time, too, so we really had to be careful about pitch counts and overuse of them, and they all stepped up in their own way to make it work.” The team was running on all cylinders; the pitching, hitting, and defense were all showcased in the final stretch of the season. 

The Rockets were successful in their goal of making the state tournament, as they finished the regular season 10-10 as the 27th seed in D2. They played the 6th seed, Hopkinton, on the road in the first round. The Rockets were unable to comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the second inning, ending their season with a 4-1 loss. Ryan Marino had a good six inning outing as he struck out seven batters. Alex Merkle (‘26) scored their one run as he got on base twice in the loss.

The Rockets await next season alongside new captains Sam Clark and Ryan Marino, ready to compete. The 2024 squad faced adversity early on, but they were not discouraged by the result of the game. The 2025 Rockets look to build on this season, hoping to pick up where they left off. 

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    matt ficheraJun 19, 2024 at 4:55 pm

    great write up. thanks for the coverage!

    Reply