Newington senior Nakonechny takes charge from the mound in final season

Published on Sunday, 25 April 2021 19:57
Written by Ryan Ames

@_RyanAmes

NEWINGTON – Zach Nakonechny is Newington baseball’s undisputed ace and on Friday, the senior showed why.

Nakonechny was dominant for the Nor’easters, striking out 13 South Windsor batters over six innings of work, in Newington’s 7-2 win.

“Thirteen strikeouts, six innings, couldn’t be prouder of him,” Nor’easters head coach Ben Alaimo said. “Couple of pick-offs at second base, kept the pitch count down and really competed hard.”

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.

“He showed three pitches effectively [Friday],” Alaimo said. “Obviously the fastball is really good, in the mid and upper 80s, but he compliments it with a curveball and a split-fingered, that he’s actually developed over the past year and he actually got a few strikeouts on that today. [It was a] very nice outing by him.”

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.

“For a guy who throws 87, you’d think he’d kind of just throw a bunch of fastballs,” Alaimo said. “He wants to be a pitcher and not just a thrower and he’s working hard to do that and I’m really proud of him.”

Because of Nakonechny, South Windsor managed just two hits, leaving some other Nor’easters with a less busy afternoon in the field.

“They really didn’t put many balls in play today,” shortstop Alex Cappellucci said. “It was tough to not fall asleep in the field, but he did a hell of a job.”

From watching him, you wouldn’t know Nakonechny missed a full high school season. As a senior, Nakonechny couldn’t 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.

“He pitched a little bit for us as a sophomore,” Alaimo said. “But we have high expectations for Zach. He’s a senior this year, he’s our captain, he’s committed to Southern and he’s worked very hard in the offseason with his father because he didn’t have a junior year. He would have been one of our main pitchers as a junior but unfortunately he didn’t have it.

“He only gets his senior year, it was obviously sad for him and for everybody, especially the seniors that didn’t get to play last year. But ‘Nak’ as we call him, has taken advantage of his opportunities.”

With the schedule only getting tougher, the Nor’easters 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 Nor’easters finished 14-6 before falling to No. 8 Enfield in the second round of the Class LL state tournament.

“We’re 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 we’ll see where we land,” Alaimo said. “I don’t like to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Newington on Sunday, 25 April 2021 19:57. Updated: Sunday, 25 April 2021 20:00.