Around the Horn: Gold gloves and silver sluggers for the '22 season

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Jun. 23—Cue up the Olympic medal stand theme, or if you'd rather some Burl Ives through Yukon Cornelius ("everyone wishes for silver and gold ..."), because it's time to wrap up the 2022 high school baseball season with one of our favorite yearly features:

The gold gloves and silver sluggers.

By position, here are some of the region's top players who showed off their mettle on the diamond to earn some metal in this column.

Catcher

Gold glove: Last year's silver slugger grabs the other trophy as a senior: Hamilton-Wenham's Nick Freni. The Generals' lone senior caught every single inning (137) this spring for a total of 2,338 pitches. He made a mere two errors on 160 chances (.988) and threw out 10 base stealers while picking off another. H-W's unquestioned leader had a solid season with the stick and will walk on at Holy Cross. We wouldn't bet against him.

Silver slugger: One of the area's breakout stars was Quinn Moses at Pingree. A sophomore from Ipswich, he won the area batting title by hitting .509, slugged .582 and threw up an OPS of 1.164. Moses drove in 23 runs and was a monster bat for the EIL champion and New England qualifying Highlanders.

First base

Gold glove: Quick like a cat with the fast footwork that will allow him to play offensive line at Union College, St. John's Prep senior Kyle Webster had a great ability to hold the bag on the stretch and field his position. A true leader who pitched for the first time in years when the Eagles needed him — and a throwback as a three-sport standout with basketball, too. Any coach would be thrilled with nine Kyle Websters.

Silver slugger: Bishop Fenwick's Nick Villano strode to the plate to WWE legend The Undertaker's music and left so many opposing pitchers resting in peace. Villano hit .436 with eight doubles for a .582 slugging and an OPS of 1.146. Now well over 6-foot-2 and seemingly growing more powerful and confident by the day, he could be one of the most feared sluggers in Eastern Mass in 2023.

Second base

Gold glove: It's a repeat here: St. John's Prep senior Payton Palladino. He made only one error in 21 games and only three over the course of two seasons; no wonder, since he's quick with a great glove from being a hockey goalie. The Danvers native is off to play baseball at Flagler College in Florida.

Silver slugger: Make it a hockey two-fer at second base as Masconomet's Chris O'Grady gets the nod. He's more of a contact hitter than a slugger, but that's what the position calls for and he delivered with 23 knocks, was among his team's leaders in runs scored, and led the Chieftains in stolen bases.

Shortstop

Gold glove: Swampscott's Matt Schroeder was slick in terms of range and solid in terms of his arm. A good leader, a solid speed guy, and just the type of kid you love to have in the middle of your defense. Another great pick here: Danvers' Tyler O'Neill who had 38 assists and made 24 outs on 68 chances.

Silver slugger: Could there be any choice but Marblehead's Liam McIlroy? Talk about one of the most dominant slash lines in recent memory: 35 hits, 27 runs, 24 RBI, .467 average, 11 extra base hits, .707 slugging, 1.235 OPS. From start to finish, probably the most dangerous hitter in the Northeastern Conference.

Third base

Gold glove: Danvers hitting machine John Curran did a little bit of everything for the Falcons and certainly shone at the hot corner. His 33 assists were second on the squad, and he seemed to have a knack for knocking the ball down before it could scoot into the outfield for extra damage.

Silver slugger: Beverly's leading RBI man Logan Petrosino was among the North Shore's leaders with 26. He was definitely one of the most clutch hitters in the NEC this year, finding ways to put the ball in play and get runs across when he came up with men on base; Petrosino has 36 RBI in what amounts to a season-and-a-half of varsity time.

Outfield

Gold glove: I love the way Shane Williams of St. John's Prep plays his position: aggressive, confident ... there's no ball hit in his vicinity that he doesn't think he can get to. The vast majority of those, he does. He also showed off that speed on the basepaths, leading the Eagles in runs with 17.

Gold glove: Griffin Francis of Beverly is another guy that plays the game the right way, earns everything he gets and had spectacular range. The same can be said of teammate Austin Bernard. The Panthers boasted one of the top defensive outfields we can remember in recent years with those two patrolling the grass.

Gold glove: Masconomet senior Kevin Pelletier had an excellent blend of athleticism and smarts, often serving as a general and director of traffic for the Chieftains. A consummate leader with a solid arm that was a big reason they made the state playoffs.

Silver slugger: Marblehead's Schuyler Schmitt was the cream of the crop this spring with 29 hits, 29 runs scored, 24 RBI, 10 extra base hits, a .420 average, .538 on-base and 1.132 OPS. One of the centerpieces of the NEC's best offense and one of the league's top all-around athletes. Enviable skills in every sense.

Silver slugger: Hamilton-Wenham's Connor McClintock was dominant in center as the area's leader in hits (37) and leader in public school batting average (.487). He had seven doubles, two triples and 20 RBI while only striking out only six times in 84 plate appearances. His OPS was 1.167 — and the scary thing is that he should be even better next year.

Silver slugger: Essex Tech's Josh Berube came back to the sport after a few years off and delivered in a big way by leading the Hawks in RBI (15). He wound up second on the squad with 21 hits and a .356 average and hopes to one day work to NASA; he's the kind of kid we'd assume will have rocket boosters strapped on at the next level.

Pitcher

Gold glove: Peabody High's Justin Powers had the lowest earned run average in the area among full-time starters (1.55) and struck out 64 batters in 58 1/3 innings. He was the stopper a few times when it seemed like the Tanners' season was doomed, found a way to win the season finale to get them in the playoffs, and battled tooth-and-nail every time out. Also had the area's most knee-buckling curveball.

Silver slugger: Danvers High's Joe Zamejtis gets a silver bat after taking home a gold glove in the 2021 edition. Sure,, he was the area's far-and-away leader in strikeouts (109) but he also his three home runs, so slugger it is. Truthfully, the NEC MVP could've gotten a gold glove in the outfield since his crow-hop hose throw is also probably the area's best. There's not much this left-hander can't do between the lines. — Now for some gems, because everyone knows a silver or gold crown is no good without some colored bling to go along with it.

These may be seniors, rookies or glue guys ... Just a few players from each team that might not have been mentioned at the top of the column due to position crunches but guys whom I'd have no problem starting a team with:

Beverly: Nick Fox, a dirt dog and leader's leader; Cooper Gavin, a flamethrower who will fan so many guys in college; Noah Gunaci, as crafty a lefty as they come; Sammy Armbruster, a complete player all the way.

Bishop Fenwick: Catcher Chris Faraca, nothing could hold this kid down; Anthony Marino, a two-way stud and early 2023 MVP candidate; Gianni Mercurio and Costa Beechin, on-base machines with great instincts.

Danvers: Sophomore Mike Moroney, who will probably come back stronger, meaner and even more of a two-way threat next season as an MVP candidate. You have to love what Aidan Lanphere gave the Falcons behind the plate, too.

Essex Tech: What's not to love about Jeffrey Roach? He hit .426, led the team in runs and steals and showed a very young team how to play varsity ball. The Hawks will be solid next year, partly because of what Roach put in this spring.

Hamilton-Wenham: The area's Rookie of the Year has to be lefty Gian Gamelli. He had 67 strikeouts in 40 innings as a freshman ... the Generals didn't push him, saved his arm and he'll be a beast for the next three years as a result. Will Cooke and Harrison Stein can play for us any day, too.

Ipswich: Finn MacLennan had one of the best career codas of any senior we can remember lately. He was the horse that pitched the Tigers back into the state playoffs, leading them in innings and wins, and was also sneaky great offensively with 15 steals and 20 hits. Watch out for Matt McGowan, Drew Lane and Jeremy Lathrop next year.

Marblehead: On-base machines Brady Lavender and Craig Michalowski. They combined for 41 runs ... and also Shane Keough, who drove in a ridiculous 31.

Masconomet: Workhorse Erik Sibbach, who more or less had to win every start from May on to get Masco in the playoffs and did it. Don't forget about catcher Will "Tank" Dempsey, as unsung a hero as there is on the North Shore. I also love the way Braeden O'Connell works his craft; anytime there's a spare second in a game, he's in the cage getting extra swings in on the tee.

Peabody: First baseman Brendan Smith is a throwback ... big power bat with four homers and a great stretch off the bag. Joey Raymond and Michael Krouse poured their souls into this season, Ryan Brunet is more nimble than he appears. Look out for Cam Connolly next year on the mound, too.

Pingree: Captains Drew Botta and Jeff Arthur were a joy to follow; they genuinely love baseball and did anything they could to promote their program and the game in general.

Salem: None better than Jack Doyle. Senior Robert Palacios deserves a solid sendoff for his outstanding second half, and Riley Fenerty could be one of the big surprises of '23 on the hill.

Salem Academy: Some of the numbers put up by Waldy Sanchez, Keegen LeClare and Jacob Redican on the charter school circuit were video game-like.

St. John's Prep: Wake Forest-bound pitcher Connor Remley was awesome to watch work and even better to chat with. A smart guy, a true pitcher rather than a thrower, and the perfect tutor for the young Eagle staff.

Swampscott: The Big Blue had so many fine leaders ... three-sport stud Cam O'Brien will be missed, and it was a blast watching Pierce Friedman baffle hitters with his strikeout stuff. Career years for John Cuttle and Jonah Cadorette were well deserved, too. — Thanks to all the readers and coaches who sent in updates to our season strikeout leaders list last month. The new additions were:

Zack Thompson, who fanned 138 in 66 1/3 innings in 2006 for the old North Shore Tech as a left-hander; Doug Bouchard of Salem, who fanned 106 in 1977; future Duke pitcher Mike Kotarski of St. John's Prep, who punched out an even 100 in 1988, plus the Prep's Rich Sirois having 97 in 2003 and Mike Maconi having 94 in '92.

Feel free to continue to send records of 90-plus K seasons to us via e-mail or social media. — Miss baseball yet? Check out the annual Agganis all-star game this Sunday at Lynn's Fraser Field at 2 p.m. for a last look at some of the North Shore's top seniors. Then stay tuned to these pages for our Salem News baseball all-stars, tentatively scheduled to appear on July 4. — Salem News assistant sports editor Matt Williams has penned Around the Horn, the North Shore's preeminent high school baseball column, each spring season since 2008. You can contact him at MWilliams@salemnews.com and follow along on Twitter @MattWilliams_SN #StrikeOutALS