Peabody's Ruotolo throws second straight no-hitter
The Peabody baseball team has found its version of Johnny Vander Meer, the only major leaguer to throw consecutive no-hitters. On Wednesday junior righthander Patrick Ruotolo tossed his his second straight no-no for the Tanners, his third no-hitter in his last four starts, an amazing feat at any level.
“I’ve coached high school ball for eight years, I’ve coached college ball for eight years, I played college baseball, I’ve been around baseball my whole life and I’ve never seen anything comparable to what I’ve seen from Patrick in the last month,’’ said Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt.
Ruotolo started the run April 26 with a no-hit bid against Marblehead in which he struck out 13 and walked three. Two starts later he no-hit Swampscott May 7, this time striking out 11 with only one walk. In Wednesday’s no-hitter against Salem, he struck out 15 and walked two.
In each no-hitter, Ruotolo had to face either the 2-3-4 or 3-4-5 hitters in the seventh inning.
“He had to face the other teams’ best hitters in the last frame, so he earned every one of those no-hitters,’’ said Bettencourt.
Even when he hasn’t thrown a no-hitter Ruotolo has been outstanding. In a start against Danvers, the game in between his no-hitter against Marblehead and the no-hitter against Swampscott, Ruotolo allowed three hits in the first inning, then went on to retire the final 19 straight batters.
“He’s been on an incredible tear and it’s not the fact that he’s throwing the ball 87 to 88 miles per hour, it’s the fact that he has such great command of his breaking ball,’’ said Bettencourt. “He is constantly ahead of hitters. He constantly has people trying to sit on his fastball which makes his offspeed pitches that much more dangerous.’’
On the year, Ruotolo is 6-0 with a 0.52 ERA with 91 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 54 innings. With such an impressive season, Ruotolo is being compared with Jeff Allison, another Peabody product. Allison went 9-0 with 142 strikeouts, nine walks in 63 2/3 innings in his senior year in 2003 and was named the Baseball America High School Player of the Year that season along with getting drafted by the Marlins in 2003.
Although Bettencourt started coaching Peabody in 2005, two years after Allison graduated, he was a college coach at the time and had watched Allison pitch.
“Jeff threw harder than Pat. Jeff was throwing 95-96 miles per hour and was dominant. But the difference between Jeff and Pat is Pat has excellent command of the two other pitches you need, being the curveball and the changeup. That’s what kind of helps him find the same success that Jeff had not throwing as hard,’’ said Bettencourt.
Ruotolo has been playing varsity since his freshman year and impressed right away. That season he threw a shutout against the eventual Division 1 South champion, Xaverian.
“The fact that he threw a shutout against a team of that caliber as a freshman, we knew we had something special,’’ said Bettencourt.
He continued doing well as a sophomore throwing a pair of one-hitters.
“[Going into] his junior year we didn’t expect to get what we are getting but we knew that he was a special kid and that he would do some special things here. Never did we anticipate he would throw three no hitters,” said Bettencourt. “It’s amazing what he has done but it is not a total surprise because of how hard he works [off the field].’’
Ruotolo will go for his third straight no-hitter Monday against Lynn Classical. There will be college scouts in attendance along with a few pro scouts to take an early look at the junior.
Walsh wins 500th
BC High’s 6-3 win over Malden Catholic Thursday was the 500th career victory for coach Norm Walsh. The win also clinched at least a tie of the Catholic Conference title for Walsh, in his 32d season at the helm.
For Walsh the victory allowed him to reflect on how long he has been coaching.
“Just having the opportunity to [win 500 games], the school has been very great and very supportive all of the years that I have coached,’’ said Walsh.
Along with success in the Catholic Conference and in postseason play, Walsh takes pride in giving back to his players.
“I enjoy seeing the kids develop, I think that’s the biggest thing. Getting the opportunity to help those guys become college prospects is probably the biggest thing,’’ said Walsh. “A number of kids have gone on to play at different levels of college baseball and gone on to play for four years and get a good education.’’
Along with coaching since 1980, Walsh has also been teaching at BC High for 37 years.
“I think one of the carryovers and one of the aspects of also being a teacher is the teaching aspect of [coaching], teaching the kids a better understanding of the game,’’ said Walsh.
Games of the week
No. 5 St. John’s Prep at Xaverian, Monday, 4 p.m. - With a win, the Eagles (12-4) can clinch a share of the Catholic Conference title with BC High. St. John’s Prep won the first meeting April 30, 5-4.
No 17. Dennis-Yarmouth at No. 9 Barnstable, Monday, 4 p.m. - The Dolphins (13-4) and the Red Raiders (11-3) come into this game as the top two teams on Cape Cod.
No. 16 Peabody at Lynn Classical, Monday, 7 p.m. - The Tanners (12-6) can clinch the Northeastern Conference title with a win and will send their ace, Patrick Ruotolo, to the hill.
No. 12 North Reading at No. 18 Lynnfield, Tuesday, 3:45 p.m. - This is a meeting of the top two teams in the Cape Ann Division 2. The Hornets (14-3) won the first matchup, 2-1, April 21.
No. 1 Walpole at Norwood, Wednesday, 7 p.m. - The Rebels (16-1) and the Mustangs (11-5) come into this game as the top two teams in the Bay State Herget. Walpole won the first meeting April 30.