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Multi-sport success has Scituate High baseball team primed to compete

SCITUATE – Dating back to last year’s first-round postseason exit to Falmouth, the Scituate High baseball team has spent its winter hibernation eager to find a way back.

“Just seeing the football team (win) at Gillette, honestly, fired me up,” said senior shortstop Ben Whitman. “I’m a hockey kid and we made it to the Final Four. Losing that game before the Garden, it definitely set a fire under me for baseball.”

Whitman is, of course, referencing the Sailors' nail-biting, 14-13 Division 4 Super Bowl win over Duxbury at Gillette Stadium in December, which clinched Scituate its second state crown since 2018. In the months since, the Scituate boys hockey team lost to Hanover, 1-0, one round away from the Division 3 title game at TD Garden, and the Sailors’ boys basketball team also advanced to the Division 2 Final Four, but fell to Malden Catholic.

With players from each of those others sports up and down the baseball roster, the early days of Scituate's spring mean that much more, especially as the Sailors are on their first tour of duty in Division 2.

The Scituate High baseball team won its scrimmage against Holliston at Scituate High on Saturday, April 2, 2022.
The Scituate High baseball team won its scrimmage against Holliston at Scituate High on Saturday, April 2, 2022.

“We’ve got guys who have had success in other sports. This is spring senior year – it’s their last shot at it,” head coach Craig Parkins said. “And they’re all-in on it.”

“We all share the same motivation. We want to win,” said senior third basemen Michael Sheskey, who was an offensive lineman and captain on the title-winning football team. “We’re going to do whatever we have to. If we just work as a team, and do what we know how to do, I think we have a chance to be very good.”

Coming into this season, Scituate brings in 12 seniors who were along for the ride of last year’s 3-2, nine-inning heartbreak to Falmouth. Senior pitcher Dylan McDonald, who tossed seven productive innings (six scoreless) in the loss, returns to lead Scituate’s deep pitching staff into the new year.

The Scituate baseball team wore warm-ups during its scrimmage against Holliston at Scituate High on Saturday, April 2, 2022.
The Scituate baseball team wore warm-ups during its scrimmage against Holliston at Scituate High on Saturday, April 2, 2022.

He joins senior Grayden Harris and junior Jordan Barthel as the 1A-C arms Parkins will rely on as the season moves along. Whitman, who put in a few innings of work into Scituate’s scrimmage victory over Holliston on Saturday, also will be used in the rotation.

“The nice part is, we’re not going to have to rely on one guy to go out there and throw complete games,” Parkins said. “We’re going to share the roles, share the innings and that’s great to have – to have four guys you can trust to throw.”

Leading the production in the Sailors' lineup is Sheskey. The senior slugger batted clean-up in the scrimmage and drilled a three-run triple in his first at-bat of the afternoon.

“Everybody looks at him as a football guy because he’s a big dude and he’s great at football, but he loves baseball. He’s smooth, he’s quick,” said Parkins. “He’s a super athlete and his leadership is second to none. I’ve had captains over the years that are really good and he’s right up there with any of them.”

Scituate's Ben Whitman during a scrimmage against Holliston at Scituate High on Saturday, April 2, 2022.
Scituate's Ben Whitman during a scrimmage against Holliston at Scituate High on Saturday, April 2, 2022.

Sheskey is joined in the Sailors' potent lineup by two seniors, Connor Stone and Henry Gates. Stone is the catcher, while Gates, also the quarterback of the football team, will transition his arm from the pressures of the Friday night lights to those of the diamond. Harris, in addition to pitching, also will play first base.

“We’re just talking about having good at-bats and making the pitchers work,” Craig said of the team's approach at the plate. “Even if you got out, did you hit the ball hard? Did you work the count? I say, even if we score eight runs or score three, did you make the pitchers work?”

Whitman links the rotation and the lineup with quality play in both. He started in center field as an underclassmen, but playing AAU ball over the years not only led him to being comfortable in a variety locations, but being a good fit in his new starting role at short. Whitman described the transition to different spots as "natural" coming into his senior campaign.

Scituate's Ben Whitman, left, during a scrimmage against Holliston at Scituate High on Saturday, April 2, 2022.
Scituate's Ben Whitman, left, during a scrimmage against Holliston at Scituate High on Saturday, April 2, 2022.

“I just like to do whatever role (Parkins) puts me in. It’s definitely different going from center field last year to shortstop,” said Whitman. “I used to play it when I was younger. Then I found my way to the outfield. Now I’m finding my way back to the infield.”

When asked which of his players, in particular, could see a breakthrough season coming their way, Parkins responded by saying that he could talk about nearly all of his players. JJ Adams, Brendan Boyle, Connor Burke, Johnny Kinsley, Craig MacDonald and Andy Scott join Gates, Harris, McDonald, Sheskey, Stone and Whitman as the team's 12 returning seniors.

“You get a little taste of it, you lose in an extra-inning game in the playoffs, you want to get back," Parkins said. "These guys have all played together their whole lives, so they want to go out with a bang.”

This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Scituate High baseball team set to run it back with veteran group