Boston Herald

Sophomore tosses gem for top-seeded Milton

- By Brendan Connelly

When Scott Longo first got word that he was getting the start Wednesday, he knew the pressure would be at its highest. To be frank, he essentiall­y was going to have to turn in one of the best performanc­es of his young career to keep his team’s historic season alive.

Mission accomplish­ed. The sophomore fired six innings of shutout ball, surrenderi­ng just one hit while striking out nine as top-seeded Milton continued its intense pursuit of a Div. 2 baseball championsh­ip with a 9-3 victory over No. 17 Norwood.

“Fastball was working really good today,” said Longo. “I was painting it good on the outside corner. Slider had good movement, and I was able to get a couple of rollers with that along with the changeup. Changeup headed outside a lot, and it just got rollovers with the contact I was looking for, and the defense always makes the plays behind my back.”

In the evening leading up to this Round of 16 tilt, Milton coach Brendan Morrissey had his group prepare by facing higher velocities at practice with one of the state’s premier pitching prospects in Jack Cropper slated to start for Norwood.

After Longo opened the game by striking out three of the first four hitters he faced, the Wildcats (19-3) stepped up to the plate, and did so with the ultimate form of intensity. Jimmy Fallon got things going with a one-out triple, only to watch Longo head to the dish. The sophomore helped out his own cause by blooping a single to right, providing Milton a 1-0 advantage. The Wildcats were just getting started.

“I think it says a lot about us,” said Fallon. “I know a lot of people outside of our dugout were doubting us. He’s a great pitcher, they thought he could come in and shut us down. I thought we have a lot of confidence. Knew we couldn’t be scared of him. We just came in, and did what we did.”

Milton would tack on a pair of runs following a passed ball and a basesloade­d walk by Reid Dexter, taking a 3-0 lead into the second inning.

“We just wanted to break the ice early,” Morrissey said. “Get a run on the board. We were able to put up a few early and add to it with some aggressive baserunnin­g, and kind of just kept padding the lead throughout the game. Then, Scott Longo was absolutely terrific. We know what he can do, and I think this was a huge game for him to show everyone else what he can do in a big spot.”

Fallon would drive in one more run in the bottom of the fourth off a fielder’s choice to make it 5-0, and his team was off and running.

Cropper tossed 5.1 innings for Norwood (11-11), allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out five. The Mustangs found a spark at the plate in the final stanza, with Gerry Frey, Sean Steeves and Brian Dearborn each driving in a run before Ben Catudal slammed the door shut with a game-ending strikeout for Milton.

“These guys didn’t shake,” Morrissey said. “They just kept competing. They came in ready to hit, dialed up the machine. I said that Jack Cropper’s a hell of a pitcher. They’re a well-coached team. We said that we had to come in and be aggressive. We were aggressive on the bases, aggressive with the bats, and it really paid off in our favor.”

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