Donnelly’s No-Hitter Gives Tompkins Record 539th Win

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Matt Brownsword

Walpole infielder makes contact against Natick.
Walpole infielder makes contact against Natick.

 

It was expected, but it was not expected like this.

Coach Bill Tompkins had been inching closer to the all-time BSL record for wins and all signs pointed towards the Walpole head coach overtaking the former Braintree coach Pete Wall for the record. So, when Walpole took down Mansfield in the eighth inning (for a non-league game, this was an extra inning) and Tompkins tied up Wall, the Rebels looked at Brookline for Tompkins’ special day.

However, the Rebels did not expect two milestones against the Warriors, but that’s what they got: junior Jack Donnelly tossed a nearly-perfect no-hitter to down Brookline 2-0 and give Tompkins his elusive 539th win.

Donnelly’s perfect game was broken up in the eighth inning after a four pitch walk but that was all — 28 up, 28 down. Donnelly definitely was not dominating Brookline’s batters with strikeouts, but the Rebels’ defense scooped every ground ball and caught every pop fly in their direction. Sophomore shortstop Ian Fair — replacing the now-BC 3rd basemen Johnny Adams — was a standout defensively, fielding 11 of the 27 outs that were hit his way.

Fellow sophomore Nate Porack drove in what turned out to be the game-winning run, plating Jimmy Smith with a single to shallow center field. Smith then scored in the eighth after taking a walk, stealing 2nd base, then advancing two bases after two errors at first and at home, respectively. Those two runs were more than enough for the deliberate Donnelly, who only allowed two balls into the outfield and whose only scare was on a sharply hit grounder to second that senior Bobby Ivatts handled unconvincingly but still managed to get the Brookline batter out at first.

Tompkins got his 540th win right after over rival Norwood — one of the main contenders for the Herget Crown — off of another complete game shutout, this time from Smith, who fanned 14 batters on his way to the second straight shutout for the Rebels.

“We stayed with the same formula, some great starting pitching and some solid defense,” pitching coach Chris Costello tweeted out after the game.

This time, the offense came from the bottom of the order: senior catcher Bob Rabaioli singled to lead off the second and then advanced to second after Kevin Quinn notched a one-bagger. Then, 9-hitter Brendan Chaisson lofted a ball over the head of the Mustang shortstop and Rabaioli was able to slide home and score the game’s only run.

The bats have been a major problem for the Rebels, as Coach Tompkins predicted before the season even started: “The hitters are going to have to step up,” said Tompkins. “We’re going to need all the run support we can get.”

However, the pitching has been on point ever since the first away game against the Warriors: Walpole has not let up more than 4 runs in any game this year, only suffering three losses by scores of 2-1 (Natick), 3-1 (Wellesley), and 4-2 (Milton). Only thrice have the Rebels managed more than four runs in a game  (all wins), with the other three wins coming against Mansfield, Brookline, and Norwood.

“Our pitching has been excellent all year,” said Rabaioli. “But we’re going to need to generate some offense if we want to reach our ultimate goals.”

When Coach Tompkins came into the program, the goals were to win the Herget, get into the state tournament, and go as far as they could. 540 wins later, those goals have not changed a bit.