Colavecchio, Johnson lead Thomaston past Sacred Heart
THOMASTON – Drew Colavecchio was brilliant. Isaiah Johnson was clutch. And rest assured Craig Prasauckas will always cherish his first game as coach of the Thomaston High baseball team.
Johnson stroked a soft, looping single into left field with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and the bases loaded to drive in the winning run as Thomaston won one of those interesting NVL-BL matchups slipping past Sacred Heart, 2-1, Saturday, sending the home folks home happy on a mild late March day in the season opener for both schools.
For Prasauckas, who was hired to replace Pat O’Neil as head coach during the winter when O’Neil took the pitching coach job at Wesleyan University, well, he was just all smiles at the game’s end.
“I was talking to Eric (Sacred Heart coach O’Toole) before the game and in in the fourth inning I said this couldn’t be a better game. It couldn’t have ended a better way. It was great. “
Johnson’s big hit and Prasauckas’ big day shared the spotlight with Colavecchio. The senior righthander was fatally efficient if you were the Hearts with a complete game 85-pitch gem, striking out eight without walking a batter while allowing just five hits in a high caliber duel with the Hearts’ top pitcher and one of the NVL’s best, Hector Alejandro.
“I was very pumped up, ready to get the season going,” said Colavecchio. “I’m just happy we won.”
Prasauckas, who was an assistant coach with the Bears under Bob McMahon during the 2017 season, was mightily impressed with Colavecchio but the performance was not exactly unexpected.
“He’s a senior captain and in a matchup like that with Hector, you expect him to do that,” said Prasauckas. “We said Drew would do his part and he was great with no walks.”
The hard-throwing Alejandro, an All-State selection a season ago, went 51/3 innings allowing four hits to go with eight strikeouts but constantly had to work out of trouble due in large part to six walks. However, only in the fourth inning when Brendan Fainer's infield hit scored a run were the Bears able to find home plate and tie the game, 1-1. Zack La Ferierre’s RBI single in the top of the inning had put the Hearts on top, scoring Alejandro, who had doubled.
It was a different story in the seventh inning against LaFerierre who had come on it relief. With one out Fainer walked and Matt Fabiano reached on an error. Colavecchio followed with his second hit of the game, a single up the middle to load the bases.
Johnson then worked the count to 3-1 before fueling a Bears’ bench explosion and depositing the next pitch into short left field for the walk-off victory. Call it sweet redemption from his previous at-bat in the top of the sixth when Colavecchio led off with a single and was thrown out at second base when Johnson did not bunt.
“The same kid, the same spot and this time he comes through,” said Prasauckas. “A great job.”
“When (LaFerrierre) ran the count to 3-0, I knew he would have to give me a pitch and I just tried to pull it,” said Johnson of his game-winner.
“Both teams competed for all seven innings and Drew and Hector kept their teams in the game,’ said O’Toole. “They had more timely hits than we did and Isaiah (Johnson) got the big hit.
Prasauckas was left to soak it all in on what was a memorable opening day and first game.
“Whoever was here to watch, Drew and Hector lived up to the hype,” said Prasauckas. “We worked our game plan which was to try and get Hector’s pitch count up and if we could get to the bullpen we would have a chance and we did that. There were maybe two innings we didn’t have a runner on base. We grinded it out. “
Quite an opening day.