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Globe West Sports Notebook

Milford’s Colabello locked in at the plate

Milford’s Chris Colabello is leading the Can-Am League, batting .347. Milford’s Chris Colabello is leading the Can-Am League, batting .347. (Jim Collins/Worcester Telegram &Amp; Gazette)
By Marvin Pave
July 31, 2011

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Ed Riley ended his professional baseball career in 2005 pitching for the Can-Am League champion Worcester Tornadoes, the team he now manages.

Milford’s Chris Colabello was a rookie on that squad, and the former All-American first baseman at Assumption College has remained with the independent league franchise for all but part of the 2007 season, when he was traded to eventual league champion Nashua.

This season is perhaps his finest - a league-leading .374 batting average through Tuesday to go with 15 home runs, two shy of his best single-season output in 2008. The right-handed-hitting Colabello ranked second in the league in homers and was fourth with 48 runs batted in. He also had 18 doubles, a .652 slugging percentage, and .436 on-base percentage.

“I played for a long time, and I’ve never seen anyone so locked in as a hitter,’’ said Riley, a Worcester native and former Red Sox minor leaguer who succeeded Rich Gedman as the Tornadoes’ manager.

“Chris should be playing affiliated baseball because he can hit at the Double A or Triple A level and possibly even higher. I wouldn’t be surprised if some organization came calling for him.’’

At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Colabello is “a good-sized guy with a phenomenal swing, and is a hard-working team leader and role model for our younger players,’’ said Riley.

Colabello, who has never batted under .300 since turning pro, felt he had something to prove after breaking his hand late last season. “That left a bitter taste,’’ said Colabello, who plays first and third base and the outfield, and bats third for the Tornadoes.

“Last winter, I worked with my friend, Bob Tewksbary, who has a training facility in New Hampshire, breaking down the swings of successful major league hitters, and I’ve also had great support from Rich Gedman,’’ the former Red Sox catcher who’s now a hitting instructor for Boston’s minor league affiliate in Lowell, “and our hitting coach, Chip Plante.’’

Colabello’s new approach is committing to his swing on every pitch, and staying aggressive if it’s to his liking.

“In terms of consistency,’’ he said, “this is my best season here.’’

Colabello was a third baseman at Milford High, where he also played two seasons of basketball. He was a member of the American Legion Post 59 team that went to the 2001 national tournament in Yakima, Wash. He was a .359 career hitter at Assumption and among 12 players from the program with 200 career hits.

Colabello had hoped to be drafted by a big-league team, but when that didn’t happen he joined Worcester 25 games into the 2005 season. He was signed by the Detroit Tigers and invited to spring training the following season, but was released and rejoined the Tornadoes.

He has not let that disappointment affect his attitude or work ethic.

“I’m playing because I’m still having fun,’’ said Colabello, who will turn 28 in October. “My expectation on a day-to-day basis is to be the best player I can be, and like every player in this league, you hope to reach the next level and beyond.

“But when I take the field, those thoughts are out of my mind and I don’t hold any grudges about the past.’’

Which has made the present even sweeter.

Freid takes his game to St. John’s University Former Needham High lacrosse captain Harry Freid, a three-time first team All-American lacrosse player at the University of Michigan, is taking his talents to the Division 1 ranks as a fifth-year senior at St. John’s University.

Freid helped Michigan post a 76-2 record during his four seasons.

Selected to the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division 1 All-Decade Team and named the Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association Defensive Player of the Year, Freid was part of a three-year national championship run for Michigan in the nonvarsity association. The Wolverines were national semifinalists last season.

Under NCAA regulations, student-athletes are allowed five years to play four varsity seasons in one sport. Because Freid played in a nonvarsity program, he had one more year of lacrosse eligibility.

“When I came to Michigan, I wasn’t sure I could play at the highest level,’’ said Freid, who played scrimmage games against several Division 1 schools for the Wolverines. He also played for Team USA West, an all-division squad that toured Japan in 2008.

“Those experiences made me expect more from myself, and I set a goal to play Division 1 lacrosse,’’ he said. “I spoke to a few D-1 coaches last year and the one who showed the most interest was Jason Miller at St.John’s, who had two defensive starters graduating.’’

The 6-foot, 185-pound Freid was a two-time Bay State Conference All-Star, an Eastern Mass. All-Star, and the lacrosse team defensive MVP at Needham.

He also lettered in basketball, and was a football captain and all-conference pick for the Rockets.

Wellesley’s Stone helps power Cannons Wellesley’s Mike Stone, a second-year midfielder with the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse, has earned the respect of head coach Bill Daye.

“Mike is a hard-working team player who takes advantage of his opportunities when he gets on the field,’’ said Daye.

Stone was a three-time All-American and the New England Small College Athletic Conference Player of the Year his junior and senior seasons at Middlebury College. He is also assistant varsity lacrosse coach at Wellesley High, where he was an All-American in 2005. He has eight career goals with the Cannons.

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


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