Young pitching helped put St. Mary’s baseball over the edge

St. Mary's sophomore John Nowicki stepped up as one of the key pitchers for the Spartans this season. (Item File Photo)

They say good pitching will beat good hitting every time, and the St. Mary’s baseball team lived by that credo during the 2020 season. But it wasn’t just the quality of the pitching that put the Spartans over the edge, it was the quantity as well.

In addition to junior ace Aiven Cabral, who pitched 6 1/3 innings to earn the win in the Division 2 state title game Thursday, the Spartans relied on a stable of young pitchers like freshman Eric Bridges and sophomores John Nowicki and Tommy Falasca to get through the year. 

“On the mound this year is really where I think we were able to separate ourselves,” said St. Mary’s coach Derek Dana. “Eric came up huge for us several times, John and Tommy both started games for us all year and those guys all came through. With the pitch count stuff changing how you can approach a week of games, the ability to hand the ball off to young guys and have them step up to the challenge is good to have.”

Besides Cabral, Bridges may have had the performance of the postseason when he pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout to lift the Spartans over Masconomet in the Division 2 North Final. Nowicki and Falasca both started several games throughout the year, while Nowicki also had two saves — including one in the state title game Thursday.

Having guys of that caliber behind him is one of the reasons why Cabral is never nervous about losing a game, even when he’s not pitching.

“I feel like those guys always have my back out there, and I always have their back,” said Cabral. “We’re a family out there and I always trust those guys to come up big for us.”

That feeling extends to Colby Magliozzi, who caught this rotation all year long.

“We had a lot of young guys this year after losing a lot of pitching from the COVID year,” said Magliozzi. “A bunch of young guys had to step up, and they all did when it mattered most. They didn’t look like young guys when they were out there pitching, that’s for sure.”

And with so much big-game experience at such an early part of their high school careers, the sky is now the limit for the returning hurlers over the next few years. Cabral will return as the senior ace in 2022, but the Spartans will have at the very least a reliable four-man rotation in their quest for a three-peat. 

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