By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Forgive the Shrewsbury High School (SHS) varsity baseball team for its penchant for disdain of the color purple. Not the 1985 Steven Spielberg movie of the same name but in this case the colors that adorn St. Peter-Marian High (SPM) uniforms and all team logo.
SPM has done the unthinkable to Colonial baseball in recent years. In 2015, the rival Guardians overwhelmed Shrewsbury, 15-4, at Holy Cross’ Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field in the Central Mass. Division 1 final and 12 months later they repeated their conquest with another championship, this time a 3-1 squirmer at the same venue.
Is this the year that the blue and gold reverse the tide and extract revenge and bring home a much coveted title? Players, coaches and team supporters think so, especially senior captains Mike Filiere, Nick Martin and Dillon Zona who look to go all the way in this their final stint as a Colonial.
“What happened the last two years has fueled my off-season,” expressed Martin. “When I see the color purple it’s hard for me. They’ve gotten us two years in a row but we have a good team with a lot of good kids and I think if we keep trusting the process we’re on, I don’t see a reason why we won’t be raising that trophy come June. We have a lot of good people here who care about winning.”
“We use what happened the last two years as motivation for us,” added Zona. “The last two years have stung for every guy on this roster. We want to get back to Holy Cross and win a title. We have a lot of young kids this year and we have to show them the way. The way that we act off the field will hopefully translate to wins on the field.”
“I don’t want anything more than a championship my last year in high school but it’s one game at a time,” said Filieri. “We try to lay it all out on the line for our team every time we get out there.”
Shrewsbury, needing a total of 10 regular-season victories, inched one step closer to playoff competition with a 9-4 win over visiting Billerica High on May 16 to up the team’s record to 9-6. Shrewsbury plated a pair in the first inning when Tom Cue led off with a double and raced home on Martin’s two-base hit. Filieri next slapped a single up the middle to plate Martin for a 2-0 advantage.
The Colonials would supply all the offense needed on the day in the next inning scoring five runs, all on singles. Cue, Dylan Degon, Martin, Filieri, Nate Hautala and Drew Campanale all joined the hit parade that was sandwiched in between walks to Zona and Jonathan White.
“Our seniors are hungry for getting back to where we were,” said head coach Lee Diamantopoulos, who is assisted by Dean Diamantopoulos and Tim Beaudette. “It’s very challenging but I think the heartache of the last two years has made them very hungry for this run. They want to do it and they’re working hard so hopefully this hard work will pay off in the playoffs.
“We’re a pretty tough team to figure out right now. A lot of our wins have been pretty tight and our losses have been pretty tight too. Our record could be a little better or it could be a little worse. I don’t think that we’ve hit our stride yet and I don’t think we’ve played our best baseball yet. It’s exciting that if we get hot, we can make a run but if we don’t play to our capabilities we’ll be in trouble.”
Any discussion pertaining to Shrewsbury baseball is remiss without a close look at Martin, the hard-nosed receiver that is the quintessential on-field general commanding a presence and leadership that is every coach’s dream. Behind the plate and at bat with his .476 batting average, Martin is the uncompromisingly vocal team captain who is a motivator to teammates by his upbeat and driven personality.
“I’m so grateful to have a kid like Nick. He’s the heartbeat of our team so far,” said Lee Diamantopoulos. “He’s the best on-field leader I’ve ever coached. He’s a kid that we love to have on our team. He’s into every pitch and he makes sure everyone else on the team is into every pitch. He’s vocal, plays hard and if you see him after a game it looks like he needs to run his uniform through the washer twice.
“Those are qualities you can’t teach. Just with those qualities he has, he’s going to be successful no matter what he does. He’s such a determined individual. I’m going to enjoy every game and practice with him because he’s such a great kid.”
captains have taught me over the years,” explained Martin who is Suffolk University-bound in the fall. “I try to emphasize being vocal because I believe that everyone pulls together and knows exactly what they have to do. I hope what I say can help the team.”
Members of the 2017 Shrewsbury High varsity baseball team are seniors Nick Martin, Dillon Zona, Mike Filieri, Kevin Hummer, Ryan Bunton, Nick DiGirolamo; juniors Tyler Hopping, Tim Rioux, Cole Nelson, Dylan Degon, Tom Cue, Korey Patwari, Pat Shaughnessy; juniors Sean Bunton, Drew Campanale, Chris Wright, Phil Smyrnios, Jonathan White, Declan McSweeney, Nate Hautala and freshman John West.