Most of the day the Mashpee High School baseball team had top-seeded St. John Paul II on the ropes. The Falcons had the Lions wavering, but were never able to put away the team that has given them so much trouble over the years in state tournament games.
With two runs in the bottom of the sixth and then another in the seventh, the Lions scored their third comeback victory of the 2019 postseason as an Aaron Cole sacrifice fly to center field plated the game-winning run in a 4-3 win by the Lions at Plymouth North High School on Wednesday, June 12.
Time and again throughout the game the Falcons had chances to produce big innings offensively, but they were unable to come up with clutch hits when they needed them most. The Falcons stranded 10 runners on base over the course of the game. That included leaving the bases loaded in the first and sixth innings.
“We just left too many men on base today, that was the name of the game. We just could not produce when we needed to produce, and to their credit they pitched the strikes they needed to pitch. One big hit would have made all the difference in the world in that game,” Mashpee Coach Dan Patenaude said. “We fought to the end.”
The sixth inning is when the game turned.
Mashpee rallied from a 1-0 deficit to take the lead with two in the fifth, thanks to back-to-back RBI singles to right field from Jared Barr and Sean Clifford. Then, in the sixth, the Falcons looked ready to blow the game open after Zack Rogers reached on a dropped pop fly by the pitcher and Colton Colleran singled. With two outs Wille Backer was intentionally walked and then Barr worked his way on base, driving home Rogers to make it 3-1 after his base on balls. One more hit might have put the Lions away for good, and Clifford came close to making that happen but his line drive was caught in right field to end the frame.
In the bottom of the sixth a bad break proved costly for MHS. With a man on first and one away, SJP2’s Will Good hit one up the middle that Colleran had to shuffle for. The second baseman looked like he reached the bag before the slide of Cole, but he was ruled safe. Colleran’s relay to first was also late, and the Lions had two on with one down.
“I’m not going to argue that play because the guy was going on the pitch, and it’s very likely that he was there first. He had the great advantage of running on the play,” Patenaude said.
A sacrifice fly made it a 2-1 game and then SJP2’s best hitter of the day, Sean Roycroft came up with a huge hit. Roycroft, who had driven in the game’s first run with a ringing double, smoked another Jagger Bryant offering to left-center to tie the score.
That sent it to the seventh. Senior Nick Story unloaded on a pitch with one out, hitting it far and deep to left, but it was caught near the wall. That was the last good chance for the Falcons.
In the bottom of the inning the Lions pulled off their third miracle of the playoffs. Jack Sherwood started the inning off by rolling one through for a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Shane Cummings. A bunt got Cummings to second and he might have scored the winning run when Darren Katziff roped a single to center, but the runners slipped between the bases and had to stop at third. Bryant walked the next man, loading the bases for Cole.
Cole lifted a low line drive to center field. Mashpee’s Kyle Puchol made a fantastic lunging grab in center to take away a hit, but Cummings was able to tag up and score the game-winning run.
Coach Patenaude said that he believes that his Falcons will be back deep in the playoffs again. The squad’s roster had just two seniors, Story and Clifford, and should return seven starters and all of the team’s pitching.
“These guys will not forget this game. That’s something that they’ll carry with them for a while, which they should,” Patenaude said. “If guys didn’t walk away from this sad today, I’d be disappointed. They left it all on the field, and they’ve done that all year long.”
Most of Colton Colleran’s classmates were in Washington, DC, celebrating an annual tour of the nation’s capital that the Mashpee middle schooler’s 8th grade class takes ever year. While his friends were sightseeing, Colleran was helping the Mashpee High School varsity baseball team battle West Bridgewater with another big trip at stake, one to the Division 4 South semifinals.
Colleran made the right decision, if you ask his teammates. The rookie went the distance on the mound and also drove home two runs as the 12th-seeded Falcons scored a 7-4 upset against West Bridgewater on the road on Monday, June 10.
A three-run first inning gave Colleran a little cushion to work with and from there the Falcons were able to grind it out. Sophomore Willie Baker launched a two-run homer over the left field fence in the fifth that pushed the advantage to 5-1 for Mashpee.
West Bridgewater scrapped to make things interesting late in the game, but Colleran and the Falcons held on for the win that propelled them to a showdown with top-seeded St. John Paul II at Plymouth North High School on Wednesday, June 12. SJP2 rallied in the bottom of the seventh to score six runs against Archbishop Williams, the team that eliminated MHS last year in the semis, to take a 7-6 win at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Colleran did not walk a batter in the game and struck out five. He also had two hits and helped his own cause with an RBI single in the sixth inning that made it 7-3.
Peter Gonzalez chipped in a couple of hits to aid the Mashpee cause. He also drove in a run.