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Middleborough’s Newcomb makes an impressive start on the hill at Hartford

Sean Newcomb (right) hurled a no-hitter against Yale last month. Sean Newcomb (right) hurled a no-hitter against Yale last month. (David B. Newman)
By John R. Johnson
April 5, 2012
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Middleborough grad seen key for Hartford

The University of Hartford fielded the worst Division 1 baseball program in the country last season, winning just six games.

Justin Blood entered his first season as coach well aware of his task in rebuilding the program. He was understandably pleased, then, when he got his first glimpse last fall at freshman pitcher Sean Newcomb. He took one look at the delivery of the southpaw and saw flashes of Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester.

“The first time Sean threw, he stood out as a guy who is very impressive physically,’’ said Blood of the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Newcomb. “I asked him how he got lost, and who else recruited him. It turns out there really wasn’t anyone else.’’

That is fine with Blood, who views Newcomb as a critical piece of his rebuilding plan.

In the home opener March 24, Newcomb earned his first collegiate victory with a no-hitter in a 2-0 nonleague win over Yale.

“It was unexpected, but pretty awesome,’’ said Newcomb, who struck out 10 and walked two.

“I relied mostly on my fastball, but before the game I started throwing a slider, and that pitch was working for me that day.’’

Newcomb, who threw a pair of no-no’s in his junior season at Middleborough High, is 1-3 with a 4.24 earned run average for the Hawks (7-18). In six starts, he has allowed 26 hits in 34 innings, with a staff-best 32 strikeouts. He has also walked a team-high 27 batters, which Blood attributes to a lack of command while developing new pitches.

His fastball averages between 88 and 92 miles per hour.

“His fastball pretty much lives in that range,’’ said Blood. “He throws a changeup, a curve, and he just started throwing a slider. His curve is a little inconsistent, so we’re trying to give him another breaking ball he can throw for strikes easier.’’

On Saturday, Newcomb allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits over six innings against New Jersey Institute of Technology, earning a no-decision in the 9-6 loss.

“Sean struck out three or four batters on the breaking ball in his no-hitter, but [Saturday] he didn’t have it going for him,’’ said Blood.

“He’s still learning. For a freshman, he’s got a nice changeup, and his fastball is obviously what it is. As his breaking ball gets better, he’ll be tough to hit.’’

At Middleborough High, Newcomb compiled a 9-0 record and a 0.46 ERA with three saves as a senior, hurling the Sachems (20-4) to the Patriot League title and the Division 3 South final against Apponequet. He struck out 110 in 58 innings.

Blood believes Newcomb can be dominant at the collegiate level.

“The first time I saw him throw, I said the words ‘Jon Lester,’ ’’ said Blood. “He looks like a Jon Lester-sized guy. He throws pretty similar to him. It’s not an exact replica, but it’s not that far off, either. They are similar in how their lower half works and how the arm works. He’s the real deal. He can pitch anywhere.’’

Newcomb received recruiting looks from Villanova and Virginia, but they never amounted to anything serious. Blood is just happy he’s pitching at Hartford.

College standouts

Quincy’s Kori Sorensen came within two outs of pitching a perfect game for the Eastern Nazarene College softball team, settling for a no-hitter in a 1-0 victory over New England College on March 28. Her bid for a perfect game was foiled by a fielding error in the seventh inning. Sorensen registered nine strikeouts and did not walk a batter. The freshman from Quincy High owns a 4-4 record for ENC (5-15), with a 2.36 ERA. She has 59 strikeouts in 53.1 innings. Sorensen also plays volleyball and basketball at ENC. She averaged 5.6 points a game and led the Lions with 36 three-pointers this winter.. . .

Milton’s Hannah Mulvey (Thayer Academy) has been named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division I National Academic squad. The sophomore economics major appeared in five games for Boston College this season. Mulvey maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher through the first semester to earn a spot on the academic team. . . .

Foxborough’s Brittany Grueter, a junior at Worcester State, was named the Women’s Track Athlete of the Week in the MASCAC after her first-place finish in the 10,000 meters (41:56.64) at the Worcester City Meet. Amanda Gricus of Marion, a senior at Westfield State, was the women’s co-Field Athlete of the Week in the conference. She broke a 17-year-old school mark in the hammer throw (54.51 meters) at the Coast Guard Invitational. She bested the previous mark set by 1995 NCAA champion Claudine Rice. . . .

The Norwood High Athletic Hall of Fame is looking for nominations for the Class of 2012. Athletes must have attended Norwood High for at least two years. Candidates are eligible 10 years after graduating. The deadline for nominations is April 30. For more information, visit the high school athletic department web page at www.norwoodmustangs.com.

John R. Johnson can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net.

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