Baseball is back in Stoneham

One season removed from a 10-12 record, the Stoneham baseball team has turned things around. The Spartans are 12-7 overall and second in the Middlesex Freedom Division with a 11-5 league record. Coach Kevin Yianacopolus expected the quick turnaround having plenty of experience on the roster.

“We have a heavy senior class. A couple kids like Andrew Cann and Michael Andrews have been on the team since their freshman year . . . this is an experienced group of kids,’’ said the skipper.

Yianacopolus, a former Spartans star (Class of 1986), said Stoneham used to have trouble with players transferring. The past few seasons, however, the Spartans have been able to retain key contributors such as Cann, the division MVP, and Andrews, the team’s top pitcher.


Cann is hitting .415 with two home runs and 23 RBIs. The catcher has been contributing in other ways, too.

“He has a real sense of the game. It’s like having another coach on the field,’’ said Yianacopolus. “He’s so solid behind the plate and he’s really worked on his hitting. Last year he hit the ball all over the field but only batted .250, so it’s all coming together. He’s doing it on both sides and that’s why he’s the MVP — the coaches noticed how important he is to our team.’’

Yianacopolus said Andrews has been the team’s workhorse all season.

“He’s a heavy-hitting guy,’’ said the coach. “He’s not a power pitcher but he commands the strike zone and pitches to contact. His two-seam fastball gets us lots of ground balls and he throws lots of four-pitch and five-pitch innings . . . it’s crazy. He’s every coach’s dream . . . like Curt Schilling without the power.’’

Andrews is 6-3 on the season, accounting for half of Stoneham’s wins. Even though the Spartans have Andrews and three other division all-stars, they will finish second to Burlington in the league.

“Burlington is a well-powered machine,’’ Yianacopolus said. “They hit the ball very well and play with a lot of confidence on the field. They have four or five guys who can smash the ball.’’


Stoneham has already clinched a spot in the state tournament.

“It’s nice to be back in the tournament,’’ said Yianacopolus. “We’re different from coach [William] Seabury’s teams that I played on. Those were more powerful and we’re about stealing bases and creating havoc on the bases. People in town are starting to notice though and there’s talk the baseball’s back in town.’’

Yianacopolus spent 16 years as an assistant at Lexington before coming back to Stoneham in 2011.

“It’s nice to be back and to give back,’’ he said. “At Stoneham, we’ve only had three coaches in the past 70 years so it’s quite an honor to get the job and hopefully stay.’’

The coach said that in the end, “it’s the kids that deserve everything. They work hard and buy into the program.’’

Stoneham will learn its first-round opponent for the state tournament on Tuesday, one day after finishing its regular season against Malden Catholic.


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