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BVT Baseball Takes Positives from Snapped Win Streak

Few coaches will tell you a loss is a good thing, but many seek to take some positives, some silver lining from their defeats. That is the case for Blackstone Valley Tech head baseball coach Anthony Leonelli, who saw his team's seven game winning streak come to an end with a 5-4 loss to Bay Path on Monday.
"We kicked the ball around a bit on defense and four of the five guys who scored for them reached via walk or hit by pitch," he said. "When you give people that many chances to score, they'll make you pay for it. That's baseball."
The loss was a bump in the road for a Beavers team that is still in line to win it's first league title since 1976 and will likely have a high seed in the district tournament. BVT checked in at 11-3 following the loss to Bay Path with games scheduled at Monty Tech, Parker Charter, and Nashoba Valley Tech this week.
"I think the loss is a bit of a wake up call for us and should re-focus the team a little bit," said Leonelli. "We were shooting for a clean record through the Colonial Athletic League, but that isn't going to happen. We can still clinch the league this week though, which is one of our major goals."
Leading the charge for the Beavers in trying to accomplish that goal has been pitcher Dan Avery, who owns a 6-1 record and a minute 1.19 ERA. "He has been tremendous," said Leonelli of his ace. "He is getting ahead of hitters, doesn't walk guys, and throws strikes. He also misses a lot of bats and has just been great for us."
Avery has teamed with fellow starter Brendan O'Rourke for nine of the team's first 11 wins, and has gotten some help from a reconfigured defense. Cam Fiorentino moved from shortstop to the outfield, and Chris Kowalik slid over to short from third base.
"Changing up the defense seems to have helped us a bit," said Leonelli. "Cam has been great in the outfield, he has a great arm and great range. Kowalik has helped spark us at short and the two have helped shore up our defense."
BVT has also been able to rely on a balanced offense. Lead-off hitter Julian Picard has struggled lately, the victim of hard hit balls right at the opposing defense, according to Leonelli. Others have stepped in to fill the void on offense, however, including senior outfielder Alex Hall.
"Alex is a two-year starter who was struggling at the beginning, but he broke out of his slump with his legs," said Leonelli. "He beat out a couple of infield hits and now he seems to get a couple of hits every time out. He broke out the way you talk about, and now he is a catalyst for us and a hard worker to come out of that slow start."
The Beavers have also gotten consistent offense from O'Rourke, who is hitting close to .500 on the season to go with his 3-1 record on the mound. Valley Tech has three regular-season games remaining next week as well as a likely bid to the state vocational tournament. Leonelli hopes the team depth, coupled with a sense of urgency, will serve his team well come play-off time.
"We have to remember that we have the luxury of playing in a league that isn't always the most competitive top to bottom," he said. "If we get in as a 16-4 team, we may get a 12-8 team out of a good conference and have to be prepared for that."




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