Stafford ace Houle plays cards right in 1-hitter of Rockville

Kyle Maher, Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.
·4 min read

May 4—STAFFORD — Stafford High baseball coach Scott Martin knew entering the 2021 season that he had a special talent at the top of his starting rotation in Nick Houle.

The senior showcased that prodigious talent Monday.

Houle fired a one-hitter and drove in the only run on a double in the bottom of the fourth inning to lead the Bulldogs to a 1-0 victory in NCCC play.

Stafford (5-5) extended its winning streak to four. Rockville (7-3) had its five game winning streak snapped.

Houle, a right-hander, allowed one hit — a single by Jack Steed to lead off the top of the fifth. He struck out seven and walked four.

"Today is one of the best games I've seen from him," Martin said. "He competed throughout. He was dominant. I'm proud of him."

Deshaun Perry took the loss. The junior right-hander went the distance, allowing one run on three hits and striking out eight. He walked four.

"Deshaun pitched unbelievably well, but you don't win games when you only have one hit," Rockville coach Greg Caron said. "We've been hitting the ball unbelievably well, scoring a ton of runs, but we ran into one of the best pitchers in the conference today."

Houle joined the varsity team's rotation as a sophomore and led the Bulldogs in every statistical category. He would have been the team's ace as a junior, but the season was canceled before it began due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"He's always thrown hard, even as a sophomore," Martin said. "But he's taken another step forward this year. He's put on weight, spent a lot of time in the weight room. The curveball is still a work in progress. Something to change speeds and keep them off balance. He's working on a changeup, getting the feel for it. Wherever he goes next year, I know they'll work on mechanics with him, but as far as what he's doing right now, I couldn't be prouder of him."

Houle has received interest from UConn-Avery Point and Albertus Magnus. He is also considering joining a program as a walk-on.

"I'm looking at my options," Houle said. "I'm hoping to make a decision soon, probably in the next couple weeks."

Isaac Minaya led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, stole second, and scored on Houle's double to the wall in right to give the Bulldogs the lead.

The Rams had one last chance with two outs and a runner on first in the seventh. Zach Clapp, hit a line drive into the gap in left-center, but Minaya, the left fielder, sprinted after it and made a shoestring catch to close out the Bulldogs victory.

SOMERS 5, GRANBY 1. In Granby, Kaede Wood pitched six innings of one-hit ball in Somers' NCCC win. He struck out 10. Shawn Gentilcore threw a scoreless seventh.

Troy Maia homered and drove in two runs for the Spartans (6-4). Gentilcore was 3-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs while John Zapolski added two hits. Somers scored twice in the second inning and twice in the fourth to build a 4-0 lead. Joshua Sealander had the only hit for Granby (2-6).

CANTON 4, COVENTRY 1. In Coventry, Nate Brown pitched a five-hitter as Canton picked up the NCCC win. The game was called after six innings due to darkness. He walked two and struck out six.

The Warriors (7-3) scored three runs in the first inning and never gave the lead up in ending a three-game losing streak following a 6-0 start. Losing pitcher Josh Malcolm had two hits for Coventry (7-3).

SMSA 9, SUFFIELD 8. In Suffield, SMSA erased a six-run deficit with a nine-run sixth inning and held on for the NCCC win.

The Wildcats (2-5) pulled within one with two runs in their half of the sixth but were unable to get the equalizer. Gabe Custodio had a double and triple while scoring two runs and driving in two for SMSA (5-5).

Max Beaudoin had three hits, scored twice, and stole four bases for the Wildcats. Nick Gomes and Sam Beaudoin: each added two hits and two RBIs.

For daily updates on high school sports in JI's coverage area, follow Kyle Maher on Twitter: @KyleBMaher, Facebook: Kyle Maher, and Instagram: @KyleBMaher.