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Full-strength Iacovella fueling Jesuit

TAMPA — Last year, an injury limited Jesuit infielder Nick Iacovella to six RBIs.

Saturday, he matched that total — in one inning.

Runs have been plentiful for the Tigers this year, and Jesuit's 23-2 district win over Robinson was the most impressive. The Tigers scored 19 runs in the second inning.

In that frame alone Iacovella hit a grand slam and a two-run single.

It was the latest in Jesuit's season-long domination. The Tigers (14-1) have scored four times more runs than opponents (152-38) — that from a lineup that lost four Division I recruits.

But Iacovella, a senior, has filled in nicely. Coach Richie Warren penciled him in to the No. 9 spot in the order as the team's starting second baseman and he has turned into one of the Tigers' most productive hitters.

Iacovella quickly moved into the No. 2 spot, and is now hitting cleanup with a .458 average, a team-leading three home runs and 18 RBIs, which is tied for the team lead. Just in Jesuit's past five games, Iacovella is 9-for-17 (.529) with 10 RBIs.

"At the beginning of the year he was one of the guys we needed to get on base," Warren said. "Now he's one of the guys we need to drive in some runs."

Iacovella played just nine games last season, recovering from surgery to repair chipped cartilage in his knee. It was Iacovella's fourth surgery — one on each knee and his ankle twice.

"The toughest part was not being able to go out and practice, just having to sit and watch and go through the rehab again," said Iacovella, who missed about 3½ months. "Just having to go through the recovery process the whole time was tough."

Iacovella turned to the weight room as a refuge. He trimmed down to 165 pounds by the fall and is maintaining his weight at 183 thanks to a strict diet.

He has been recruited by Harvard, and if he gets accepted — Iacovella owns a 4.2 GPA — he plans to play there in college.

"He has a pretty extreme work ethic," Warren said. "He's in the gym a lot. He's always working on his swing, always taking ground balls. He's done everything possible to succeed, and it's shown the first 15 games of the year."

Full-strength Iacovella fueling Jesuit 03/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 9:29pm]
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