Baseball: Jimmy Evans pitches St. Joe's to Class M final

BRISTOL — It would take something special for St. Joseph to start whooping and hollering any louder than they did after senior center fielder Stephen Paolini found out right before the game that he had been drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday.

How about 12 seniors reaching a collective goal that had taken four grinding seasons to reach?

Jimmy Evans pitched a three-hitter and struck out 10 batters when coach Jim Chaves’ 11th-seeded Cadets defeated No. 7 Rockville, 3-0, in the Class M semifinals at Bristol’s Muzzy Field.

St. Joseph (18-8) will play No 1 Wolcott (21-2) for the championship on Saturday at  7 p.m. at Middletown's Palmer Field.

“Jimmy is the guy,” said Paolini, who had two hits including a run-scoring triple as St. Joe’s advanced to its first final since winning the title in 2013. “Their pitcher had us off balance and we had to fight for our runs.”

Evans took the hill with his team’s 52-1 margin of victory in the first two games as a backstop. A Tuft University-commit, Evans would only need one run.

“This (win) means everything to our team, our seniors,” Evans said. “I was locating my pitches well today and my defense was fantastic.”

Shortstop Carter Courbron made a pair of inning-ending plays with runners on base.

Al Paolozzi in left field made a diving catch to take the sting out of the first walk allowed by Evans.

Evans helped himself by picking a runner off third — catcher Aaron Kirby threw another out stealing.

Rockville brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning, after a walk and a hit batter. In between the free passes, Paolini made his hit-stealing catch and Evans had a strikeout. He then put the last out in the book on strikes.

Handing the baseball to the left-handed Evans was an easy decision.

“We consider Jimmy the biggest adult on the entire team,” Chaves said. “He is even-keeled. You can tell how much he wanted to pitch.”

St. Joe’s scored in the second after singles by Charlie Pagliarini (two hits) and Hadyn Gourley led to Courbron’s run-scoring fielder’s choice grounder.

In the third, Pagliarini’s two-out single was followed by an infield error and a run-inducing double steal.

Luke Kirby walked and Paolini’s three-bagger brought hm home in the sixth.

Rockville (18-6) had hits from Chris Mierez, Cam Bogli and Clayton Aafedt,

Pitcher Anthony Mierez stranded eight base runners.

Chris Mierez had three stellar plays in left field, and third baseman Joe Kaminski was outstanding.