NEWINGTON ā Zach Nakonechny is Newington baseballās undisputed ace and on Friday, the senior showed why.
Nakonechny was dominant for the Norāeasters, striking out 13 South Windsor batters over six innings of work, in Newingtonās 7-2 win.
āThirteen strikeouts, six innings, couldnāt be prouder of him,ā Norāeasters head coach Ben Alaimo said. āCouple of pick-offs at second base, kept the pitch count down and really competed hard.ā
Nakonechy started the game fanning six of the first seven South Windsor hitters in innings one and two. The visitors scored one run in the third after recording a couple of hits, but Nakonechny then set down three of the next four on strikes.
āHe showed three pitches effectively [Friday],ā Alaimo said. āObviously the fastball is really good, in the mid and upper 80s, but he compliments it with a curveball and a split-fingered, that heās actually developed over the past year and he actually got a few strikeouts on that today. [It was a] very nice outing by him.ā
Nakonechy showed confidence in his off-speed pitches on Friday, particularly when his command with the fastball was struggling. The righty caught multiple South Windsor batters leaning with his curveball, specifically, throughout the contest.
āFor a guy who throws 87, youād think heād kind of just throw a bunch of fastballs,ā Alaimo said. āHe wants to be a pitcher and not just a thrower and heās working hard to do that and Iām really proud of him.ā
Because of Nakonechny, South Windsor managed just two hits, leaving some other Norāeasters with a less busy afternoon in the field.
āThey really didnāt put many balls in play today,ā shortstop Alex Cappellucci said. āIt was tough to not fall asleep in the field, but he did a hell of a job.ā
From watching him, you wouldnāt know Nakonechny missed a full high school season. As a senior, Nakonechny couldnāt compete as a junior in 2020 because of the covid-19 pandemic, but did have some previous varsity experience to lean on heading into 2021.
āHe pitched a little bit for us as a sophomore,ā Alaimo said. āBut we have high expectations for Zach. Heās a senior this year, heās our captain, heās committed to Southern and heās worked very hard in the offseason with his father because he didnāt have a junior year. He would have been one of our main pitchers as a junior but unfortunately he didnāt have it.
āHe only gets his senior year, it was obviously sad for him and for everybody, especially the seniors that didnāt get to play last year. But āNakā as we call him, has taken advantage of his opportunities.ā
With the schedule only getting tougher, the Norāeasters will likely go as far as Nakonechy can take this relatively young squad. Nakonechny is one of only three seniors on the team and the only one who slots into the starting lineup.
In 2019, the Norāeasters finished 14-6 before falling to No. 8 Enfield in the second round of the Class LL state tournament.
āWeāre going to keep fighting, keep grinding every day and hopefully at the end of the year enough hard work and daily grind will pay off with a bunch of wins and weāll see where we land,ā Alaimo said. āI donāt like to get too far ahead of ourselves.ā
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.