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Hanover Ace Hard to Hit

Marauders Pitcher Embraces No. 1 Role

  • Hanover’s Joe Cravero pitches against Con-Val yesterday.  (Valley News - Libby March)

    Hanover’s Joe Cravero pitches against Con-Val yesterday. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover’s Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris rounds second base during yesterday’s game against Con-Val at Dresden Athletic Fields in Norwich yesterday. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Hanover’s Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris rounds second base during yesterday’s game against Con-Val at Dresden Athletic Fields in Norwich yesterday. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover’s Jesse Cutting lunges to snatch the ball during yesterday’s game against Con-Val. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Hanover’s Jesse Cutting lunges to snatch the ball during yesterday’s game against Con-Val. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover’s Joe Cravero pitches against Con-Val yesterday.  (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Hanover’s Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris rounds second base during yesterday’s game against Con-Val at Dresden Athletic Fields in Norwich yesterday. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Hanover’s Jesse Cutting lunges to snatch the ball during yesterday’s game against Con-Val. (Valley News - Libby March)

Norwich — Hanover High baseball coach Mike Jackson didn’t realize Joe Cravero had a no-hitter going when he removed the senior pitcher after six innings in yesterday’s 3-2, eight-inning loss against Con-Val at the Dresden Athletic Fields. Had Jackson been aware, he would have made the same decision.

At 112 pitches — 78 of them for strikes — Cravero’s count was high and Jackson knew he needed to save some of his ace’s juice for a difficult stretch of seven games in 11 days for the Marauders (1-1).

Cravero, a fourth-year starter, didn’t mind the decision.

“One hundred twelve is a lot for six innings. It was time to come out,” said Cravero, whose fastball regularly reaches higher than 80 mph. “I knew I had (the no-hitter) going and it was a tight game, but I still think it was the right decision.”

Cravero struck out 12, walked three, hit two batters and didn’t allow an earned run. It was the second time in as many starts that he allowed no hits through at least five innings. In a season-opening, 4-1 Hanover win at Plymouth on April 10, the 6-foot-1 heat packer carried a perfect game into the sixth inning of an eventual complete-game one hitter. He had 14 strikeouts that day against the Bobcats.

“Joe certainly knows how to find the strike zone,” said Jackson, who doubles as Hanover’s athletic director and is now in his 24th season leading Marauder baseball. “He throws hard and mixes it up, but his experience also helps him a lot. He’s been in a lot of situations a lot of different times, so much that sometimes I think the other guys on the team who aren’t as experienced rely on him to get the job done for us too much. That can be a product of not having as much experience. I expect that to get better as the season goes on and we play more.”

Cravero, who’s been pitching since he was a Hanover youth baseball third-grader, was clocked at 89 mph last summer at the Headfirst Honor Roll Baseball Showcase camp on Long Island. The most experienced and talented member of a strong Hanover pitching staff, he’s embracing the role of top gun this year.

“I like pressure; I like being the guy that’s out there in key situations,” Cravero said. “But it isn’t just me who can pitch on this team and we’re all going to have to contribute.”

Seniors Liam Gantrish, Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris, Ian Smith and Isaac Fleming-Steinberg all throw, along with juniors Jordy Levin and Ben Herndon-Miller and sophomore Rohan Kumar. As a staff, its production will be the biggest factor if Hanover is to surpass last year’s 8-8 regular season.

“Pitching is our strength, and obviously, Joe is a big part of that,” said Rothwell-Ferraris, who had a triple and scored the tying run in the sixth inning yesterday. “He’s our ace and he’s going to have a lot of innings for us this year because he’s had the most experience. And he’s matured a lot. He doesn’t mind being on the mound in stressful situations.”

The Marauders had three errors yesterday and allowed the winning run on a wild pitch.

Senior Liam Gantrish (two innings, two hits, one earned run, three strikeouts, no walks) gave up a lead-off triple in the eighth to Con-Val’s own pitching ace, Ivan Clough, who scored on the next pitch when Gantrish threw in the dirt against Harrison Leflem.

Gantrish retired the next three batters in order, two on strikeouts, and Hanover had runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth after consecutive infield errors Rothwell-Ferraris (1-for-4, triple, run) reached second when Clough overthrew first after sliding to field a dribbler, and Fleming-Steinberg (double, run) got to first on a bad throw from Cougar second baseman Mathias Fressilli.

Hanover pinch-runner Sam Mellert stole second, but both he and Rothwell-Ferraris were stranded, as Clough struck out Kumar and Cravero to end the game.

Clough, a junior, gave up three hits, struck out eight, walked one and allowed no earned runs. Con-Val improved to 3-2.

“This is a really big win for us, to come up here on an hour and a half bus ride and beat a good team,” said Con-Val coach Mike Marschok, whose Peterborough, N.H.-based squad last won a state title during his first season there seven years ago. “(Clough) had a lot of good stuff going for him today and didn’t appear worn out at all.”

Cravero struggled with his control in the first inning, hitting two batters and walking two of his three on the day, including a bases-loaded pass to Joe Edwards that put Con-Val up, 1-0.

Hanover tied it in the second when Fleming-Steinberg led off with a double down the left-field line, went to second on a Clough balk and scored on an error at second base.

Cravero struck out the side in order in the fourth, but the Cougars executed two well-placed bunts to help regain the lead in the fifth.

Hanover miscues also helped, with No. 9 hitter William MacFee reaching on a shortstop error and Fressilli getting on when Cravero misfired to first base on Fressilli’s hard-to-get-to bunt. Tyler Aborn’s sacrifice scored MacFee one at-bat later.

Rothwell-Ferraris made it 2-2 in the sixth after driving a 1-1 pitch off Clough to deep left center.

Extra Bases: Clough matched Cravero with 112 pitches thrown. ... Both teams stranded six runners, all in scoring position. ... Hanover had no games and several practices that were sparsely attended last week during school vacation, Jackson said. ... Hanover plays six more times through May 3, beginning today at Manchester West.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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