By Nick Curcuru
GLOUCESTER— Gloucester head baseball coach Joe Orlando knew heading into the season that his team had talent. The only thing he was uneasy about was his team's lack of experience as the Fishermen return just two starters from 2011 and just five players with varsity experience.
In the first game of the season Wednesday at Nate Ross Field, all the inexperienced Fishermen did was put 17 runs on the board and eclipse the 20 hit plateau en route to a 17-2 drubbing of Winthrop. Gloucester was so dominant that the game was called in the sixth inning due to the mercy rule, which was implemented this season in the Northeastern Conference and states that a game ends if a team is up 15 runs in the fifth inning or later.
"I wasn't sure about our experience but the kids lit it up today," Orlando said. "I knew they had talent and they knew what I expected of them and they did it. This is a huge confidence builder for a team that hasn't played too many varsity games."
The Fishermen swung a big stick Wednesday as they chased Winthrop starter Paul Singarella after scoring five first inning runs without recording an out. By the end of the third inning Gloucester had 15 hits and 14 runs on the board to go along with three home runs.
Gloucester's success didn't end at the plate as they also got a stellar pitching effort from starter Jason Vizena and reliever Ben Favazza. Vizena, a junior southpaw, went four innings for the win allowing two runs while Favazza hurled the final two innings and did not allow a hit.
"Jason was excellent," Orlando said. "He didn't even allow a hit until the fourth inning and we were able to pull him after only 70 pitches. Then Favazza came in and shut them right down, he has a nice lively arm. There were a lot of positives today."
The Fishermen got things started early as the first seven batters of the game reached base.
Junior third baseman Alex Webb gave the Fishermen a 2-0 lead when his single to centerfield plated Santo Parisi who walked and senior captain Kyle Lucido who singled. Webb came in to score on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
The Fishermen extended the lead to 5-0, all with nobody out in the first, on an RBI double by Jordan Pallazola to deep left field scoring Devin Hemeon who walked. One batter later Pallazola came in on a Vizena RBI single.
A Hemeon RBI single in the second made it 6-0.
The Fishermen broke the game wide open in an eight run third inning highlighted by back-to-back-to-back home runs from Vizena, Mike Muniz and senior captain Logan Horne to lead off the inning. Gloucester wasn't done there as they picked up RBI hits from Webb, Pallazola, Vizena and Muniz.
Through three innings Gloucester had a 14-0 lead, 15 hits and faced three different Winthrop pitchers. Lucido, who finished the game with five hits, had three hits and three runs scored through three innings while Vizena and Webb drove in three and four runs respectively.
"This is just the way we wanted to start the season," Orlando said. "We talked about jumping out quickly and the team came prepared to play and brought the intensity they needed to win."
Gloucester is right back in action tomorrow when they travel to Seaside Park in Marblehead to take on the Magicians, who are always a solid foe out of the Northeastern Conference Small.
While Orlando and company are happy with Wednesday's opening day win, they also know that it is just opening day and there are 19 games still to be played in the regular season.
"Now we move on and focus on Marblehead," Orlando said. "We did what we needed to do, it was a nice all around effort, but it's just one game in a long season. We are putting this one behind us and moving to the next one. Taking it one game at a time, that's our approach."