It’s not often that a high school baseball team performs the way that it projects to on paper in the preseason.
Apparently stacked teams often sputter, while it’s not out of the ordinary for a seemingly middling squad to catch fire and make a run.
That lack of predictability makes what we’ve seen through the first few weeks of the baseball season across Cape Ann even more impressive. The season’s old enough that we have a good feel for the three local teams, and, simply put, Gloucester, Rockport and Manchester Essex all appear to be who we thought they were.
Let’s start with Gloucester. After Monday’s 5-1 loss to Peabody Gloucester stands at 6-3. The Fishermen are just one game removed from their most impressive performance of the season, a 17-0 shellacking of Marblehead over the weekend and look like one of the top teams in a strong NEC this season.
Just like it seemed they would.
The Fishermen are stacked with veteran experience and leadership, and the meat of their batting order has opposing coaches struggling to find a way past them.
As Gloucester rattled off extra-base hit after extra-base hit against Marblehead on Saturday, one NEC coach scouting the game at Nate Ross Field was more than impressed, saying “There’s no real holes in this lineup, huh?”
It all starts with senior Jason Vizena, a dangerous gap hitter at the top of the lineup who gets himself on base and sets the table for a slew of big bats in the middle of the Gloucester lineup.
The 3-4-5 of Alex Webb, Jordan Pallazola and Mike Muniz is enough to make any opposing pitcher think twice, and the upward trajectory of the three over the last week makes it clear that the ceiling is very high for that group.