Nashoba Baseball Just Misses Playoffs

Published in the May 20, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster


The Nashoba Regional baseball team won't be going to the playoffs this year. But they'll always have the streak.

There's nothing like a six-game winning streak to get people talking about a team. Especially a team like this year's Chieftains, who were forced to reschedule their first six games due to weather and then went on to start the season 1-3 in the Mid-Wach B league and 1-7 overall.

If anyone was talking about the Chieftains then, it was about how much the team missed the top three hitters from last year's playoff team, who were lost to graduation. Or it was about how the new-look infield was still learning how to work together.

“We had almost a whole new infield, and had some trouble making plays,” said coach Chuck Schoolcraft. “But even when we were 1-7, the kids didn't lose focus. They didn't get upset.”

And on the first Saturday in May, everything changed. That day, the first game of a double-header against Lunenburg took 11 innings to finally go the Chieftains' way, but an RBI single by senior third baseman Eric Hvoslef of Lancaster turned out to be the difference in a 4-3 victory. In the second game, junior lefty Alex DeSisto of Stow struck out seven batters and allowed only one hit for a 1-0 Nashoba win, and just like that the Chieftains had a little streak going.

Those two wins turned out to be contagious. Nine days later, the team had won six in a row to even its overall record at 7-7 and had a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. The Chieftains' offense came alive during the streak, with 40 hits in a four-game stretch, but the team also benefited from a tighter defense and quality pitching, including a two-hit shutout by junior lefthander Evan Delaney of Stow against Gardner on May 10.

“It seemed like during the streak, every game someone different would step up and have a good game,” Schoolcraft said.

All of a sudden, people were talking about Chieftains baseball.

“Everyone in school knew we had started out slow, and when you're not winning people don't really say much,” said team tri-captain Dan Smith of Stow, who plays second base. “But when they heard we'd started to win, they'd come up to us in the halls and want to talk about it.”

The streak skidded to a halt on May 21 with an 11-2 drubbing by Westboro, followed the next day by a 10-inning, 2-1 loss to perennial league champ Marlboro. At that point, the Chieftains needed to win three of their last four games in order to make the playoffs. A 6-0 win over North Middlesex on Thursday helped, but losses to Fitchburg (4-2) and Leominster (16-0) sealed the team's fate.

“I think we were just thinking too much about what had to be done,” Smith said.

The up-and-down season has been a lesson in leadership for Smith and fellow seniors Hvoslef, Pete Rucinski of Bolton and Pete Farragher of Lancaster.

“It's been tough. In past years we never started out as bad as we did this year, so it was hard trying to keep the team's hopes alive that we could still make the playoffs,” Smith said. “As a captain, you just have to make sure to never stay quiet, always cheer on the other kids no matter what's going on with you in the game. And you have to keep reminding the team that anything can happen in baseball. There's always a chance to come back.”

For information about summer baseball camps at Nashoba High School, call 508/561-4268 or visit http://web.mac.com/visionsoftime.


Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239