Chieftains Baseball: Pitching for a Win

Published in the May 14, 2008 issue of The Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

replica watches

Alex DeSisto and Evan Delaney are the only two Stow seniors on the Nashoba Regional baseball team, but that's not all they have in common. Both are pitchers who throw lefthanded. Both, oddly enough, bat righthanded. Good friends since Little League, they work out together in the off season and push each other to succeed.

And over the next two weeks, both pitchers will be called on in key situations as the Chieftains make a run for the postseason. With eight games left on the schedule as of Monday, the Chieftains needed to win five or finish second in league play in order to make the playoffs.

“Both of those guys will be in starting roles,” said head coach Chuck Schoolcraft. “I like to think that we have enough pitching to go down the stretch, and they will be a big part of that.”

The “stretch” includes a brutal gauntlet of seven games scheduled between May 12 and May 22, thanks in part to make-ups of contests that were rained out earlier in the season. During that period, the 5-7 Chieftains (2-1 in Mid-Wach B) will need all the pitching they can get, starting with staff ace Andy Staszewski of Bolton. Other righthanders in the Chieftains' rotation include Bolton senior Riley LeFrancois and Stow junior Ryan Sivret, with Stow junior Paul Murray available to start or come on in relief.

But being able to mix things up with not one but two southpaws is a luxury most teams don't have.

“A lot of guys in our league are more used to seeing righthanded pitching, so that helps,” DeSisto said. “The ball moves in the opposite direction from what the hitter's expecting.”

In terms of pitching style, the two lefties are actually quite different. DeSisto, the team's number two starter, has as many as five pitches at his disposal and is what the coach calls “crafty.” Delaney, on the other hand, is more of a power pitcher.

Like the Chieftains, who have come up short in four one-run games that could have gone either way, DeSisto and Delaney are better than their records, Schoolcraft said. Delaney started and pitched well enough to win in a 3-2 loss to Billerica on April 22 in which the Chieftains offense only managed two hits. He also made solid relief appearances against Fitchburg on April 10 (working two innings of what was ultimately an 8-7 extra-inning loss) and against Quabbin on May 5 (five innings in a 14-6 loss).

Delaney, who took several years off from pitching after breaking his elbow in a bicycling accident in middle school, is more than happy to be back on the mound in any capacity.

“I'm a starter, but I'm always ready for relief. Whenever I'm needed, I'm ready,” said Delaney, who also had a big day at the plate with 2 RBI in Wednesday's 5-3 win over Groton-Dunstable. “When you come on in relief, there's more pressure because it's not your game, it's someone else's game, and you don't want to mess up for them. But I like to pitch, so I'd rather be in there than not.”

DeSisto started out the season with six solid innings in a 7-3 win over Billerica on April 9, then held his own for four innings against a patient Holy Name team on April 23 in a game the error-plagued Chieftains ended up losing 7-2. DeSisto also took a line drive to the elbow of his non-pitching arm in the first inning against Holy Name, the effects of which -- more mental than physical – were evident in his next start, the May 5 loss to Quabbin.

“I'm not going to lie about it; I've been a little gunshy,” said DeSisto, who's also been pitching with nerve pain in his throwing arm. “But you just have to fight through it.”

And if there's one thing that can be said about this year's Chieftains, it's that they've kept fighting.

“We're battling, and we'll keep on battling,” Schoolcraft said. “No one on this team will quit, I'll tell you that.”

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