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Globe South Sports Notebook

Quincy stars shine in Division 1 baseball

Mike LeBel of Quincy is a top Major League Baseball draft prospect. Mike LeBel of Quincy is a top Major League Baseball draft prospect.
(Ed Pepin)
By Marvin Pave
May 22, 2011

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Mike LeBel tied a program record with his 23d career home run at the University of Rhode Island last week. A former three-sport athlete at Quincy High, he has made 147 consecutive starts at shortstop for the Rams. And this season, he is one of six players from the city suiting up for a Division 1 college baseball team.

Atlantic-10 Conference foes Tom Conley, a junior catcher, and Glen Misho, a junior pitcher, are at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Scott Warwick is a junior pitcher at Fairfield; Ricky Salvucci is a sophomore third baseman at Northeastern University; and Kevin Magoon is a sophomore pitcher at Sacred Heart.

“Quincy has never had so many Division 1 collegiate players at one time,’’ said Bob Griffin, a Senior Babe Ruth coach who has been active in various leagues in the city the past 15 years.

He said he believed the city had only two other Division 1 players over the past 15 or 20 years, pitchers Keith Doherty at UMass and John Folino at UConn.

“There are so many connections between these players,’’ added Griffin. “Some were teammates in high school and Legion ball, and Magoon, Warwick, and LeBel go back to when they were 8-year-old teammates in the Braintree Friendship League.’’

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound LeBel, rated among the A-10’s top 5 big league draft prospects by Baseball America, has a career .314 batting average for the Rams (29-18 overall, 15-6 A-10).

“Mike has shown plus power for his frame,’’ said URI coach Jim Foster. “He has very quick hands that are loose and he is all about the team. I can’t say enough good things about what he does for our program.’’

LeBel was on fire over a 10-game stretch through midweek: .474 with a team-high 18 hits, 17 RBIs, 12 runs, seven stolen bases, and five homers.

“I started off the season in a big slump, and I needed to step up,’’ said LeBel, who ranks in the Rams’ career top 10 in nine offensive categories. “Having our new hitting facility completed a couple of weeks ago has really helped. I’ve never stepped up to the plate and felt I was a home-run hitter. So tying the record is an accomplishment, but it really hasn’t sunk in because my focus is getting that A-10 championship.’’

LeBel said he played for Griffin on a number of teams when he was younger. “He’s been awesome and a great friend,’’ he said. “During my college career I’ve played against the other five D-1 guys from Quincy, all of whom I consider close friends.’’

LeBel said he and Warwick text one another with good luck wishes before their games. And when UMass visited URI this season, LeBel invited Conley and Misho to his apartment after the game to watch the Celtics on TV.

“It was like being home again,’’ said LeBel.

A three-year starter at UMass, Conley (BC High) is one of the conference’s top defensive catchers, throwing out 24 of 61 runners attempting to steal. He is also hitting .295. Misho (Catholic Memorial) was leading the UMass staff with five wins going into last Thursday’s game at St. Bonaventure. He was the conference’s Pitcher of the Week following his first start, a complete game 2-1 victory over Toledo.

“Glen has improved tremendously, given us some great efforts on the mound. He’s been our number one pitcher, and we expect that he will continue to develop,’’ said UMass coach Mike Stone. “And Tom is a fierce competitor who continues to make himself into a more complete catcher and offensive threat.’’

Warwick (BC High) was pacing the pitching staff at Fairfield with his five victories, including a two-hit, seven-inning outing against Central Connecticut (no decision) and 10-strikeout performances in wins over St. Joseph’s and Niagara. He and Conley were batterymates on the 2008 Division 1 state championship team at BC High.

“Scott had shown flashes as a freshman and sophomore, but now has become one of our weekend starters and pitched extremely well,’’ said Fairfield coach John Slosar. “He’s developed a good breaking ball, given us a number of quality starts, and his confidence has made him a very competitive pitcher.’’

Salvucci (Quincy High) recently took over the starting role for Northeastern, primarily against right-handed pitching, and was batting .314.

NU head coach Neil McPhee said Salvucci is “the classic case of a player who waited patiently for his opportunity, and he’s run with it. He’s been especially strong offensively and gotten better as he’s played.’’

Magoon (BC High), was providing pitching depth for the Pioneers, who have tied a program record for wins at 31-21 overall (23-9, second place in the Northeast Conference) going into this weekend’s NEC tournament in Norwich, Conn.

“Kevin’s season was delayed by illness, ’’ said Sacred Heart pitching coach Wayne Mazzoni, “but down the line, he has the potential to be a crafty righty who throws from different arm angles, similar to an El Duque,’’ Orlando Hernandez.

Here and there Stonehill College senior Diana Cabral of West Bridgewater placed 10th (among 19 riders) at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships at Kentucky Horse Park over the weekend. She competed in the individual novice equitation over fences class. . . . Nominations for the Brockton High Class of 2011 Athletic Hall of Fame will be accepted through June 30. To nominate former coaches, athletes, or other supporters of BHS athletics, visit the school’s website or contact athletic director Tom Kenney at 508-580-7540.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.