Bozzo, Rabosky, Labrador steer Immaculata to 8-0 start

By Bob Behre | April 17, 2024

Immaculata’s Jayden Capindica looks at what became a wild pitch in the fifth inning.

Nick Bozzo pitched six strong innings and Troy Rabosky delivered a pair of clutch sacrifice flies as Immaculata edged Rutgers Prep, 3-1, in a Skyland Conference game at Diamond Nation on Tuesday.

Third baseman Jayson Labrador also tripled and singled and scored a run as the Spartans improved to 8-0 on the season. Immaculata had opened the 2023 season at 2-11 before rallying to a 9-15 finish.

Much of that 2023 Immaculata squad has returned in 2024 a much more mature, physically imposing and dangerous team.

“It feels great to start like this,” said Cust, in his 12th year at the Somerville-based school. “We have to try and keep it one pitch at a time, put our best foot forward and keep the game simple.”

The Spartans kept it simple against a challenging pitcher in Lehigh-bound Max Treonze and Bozzo, after permitting a run in the second inning, was nothing short of a difficult customer to the Argonauts.

Bozzo permitted that lone Rutgers Prep run on four hits, struck out seven and walked two in a tidy 84-pitch effort. Sean Henry closed it out with a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

Jayson Labrador takes a lead after singling to load the bases during a two-run rally in the fifth.

“My slider was really good today,” said Bozzo, 2-0 in his three starts. “I was getting the four-seamer going too. The umpire was giving me a nice outside  corner to righties.”

Bozzo struck out the last two batters he faced to close out the sixth inning, including a grinder of a nine-pitch at bat by Maddox Chue (1-for-3), who singled home Evan Laub in the second. But Bozzo caught Chu looking on his ninth pitch, on the outside corner.

“I wanted that last out bad,” said Bozzo.

Immaculata tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Labrador tripled to right-center field before Rabosky drove a 1-2 pitch deep enough to left field for the sac fly. An inning later, a Rabosky sac fly would actually bring home two runs to put Immaculata in front, 3-1.

Leadoff hitter Colin Kassai ignited the rally with a one-out 10-pitch walk that Cust called, “A big at bat and a big walk.” Jayden Capindica followed with a walk of his own, during which Kassai took second on a wild pitch. Labrador then singled to load the bases.

That brought up Rabosky, the cleanup hitter, and the senior drove a 2-1 offering from Treonze to fairly deep right field. Kassai coasted home with the go-ahead run and Capindica scored, too, when the throw to the infield got away.

“I was just looking for something in the zone that I could drive,” said Rabosky. “I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well.” If he thinks a .545 average with 13 RBI through eight games is hitting pretty well, we’ll agree.

Kassai and Labrador have been terrific with the bat, as well, for Immaculata. Kassai is batting a team-high .571 with 8 RBI and 7 walks, while Labrador is at .444 with six RBI. His triple leading off the fourth seemed to ignite an Immaculata offense that had managed just one hit to that point.

“I noticed he was throwing off-speed stuff on the first pitch, so I sat on that,” said Labrador, a junior. “He gave me one up and I tried to stay simple and hit it to right field.”

Rutgers Prep’s Jason Roser gets a good look during a seven-pitch walk in the fifth inning.

That intelligent approach by the Immaculata hitters and a healthy dose of grind had made the Spartans lineup no picnic for opponents.

“We’ve been stressing not giving at bats away,” said Cust. “We want to grind out at bats and drive the pitcher’s pitch count up.”

Treonze, the Third Team All-Non-Public selection last year by, was cruising through three scoreless innings in which he threw just 37 pitches. But Immaculata worked the righty for 24 pitches in the fourth inning and 25 more in the fifth. He departed after five with 86 pitches.

“Our at bats got better later in the game,” Cust told his charges in the post-game. “Let’s keep it going. Throw strikes. Hit strikes.”

NOTES: Immaculata outdueled another Patriot League-bound pitcher on Monday when Josh Thompson tossed a complete game three-hitter in a 2-1 decision over Pingry and Lafayette-bound Alex Payne. Thompson went 1-for-2 with a walk against Rutgers Prep.

Laub had two singles, drew a walk and scored a run in three at bats for Rutgers Prep. Dan Ferguson singled and drew a walk in his three trips to the plate for Immaculata.

Immaculata’s freshman shortstop Justin Labrador, Jayson’s younger brother, made a couple plays above his age level.

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