LYNN — When you run into an opposing pitcher who’s on his “A”game, opportunities to score tend to be few and far between. When you don’t capitalize on the ones you get, your chances off winning begin to decline.
That, in short, was the story of the Lynn 14-year-old Babe Ruth All-Star team’s 5-0 state semifinal loss to Plymouth Saturday afternoon at Breed Middle School.
With the loss, Lynn’s state tournament run came to a close.
Plymouth starter Kyle Keating pitched seven shutout innings, leading his team to victory. A left-hander, Keating allowed six hits, one walk and struck out seven. Perhaps Keating’s most important plays of the afternoon were a pair of pickoffs, one in the bottom of the first and one in the fifth, at first base.
“He (Keating) was unbelievable,” Lynn manager Brian O’Connor said. “He picked two of our guys off. He had this move where he looked in and it wasn’t a balk. It was right on the line, the umpire said. He kept getting us with that and we didn’t hit. We needed timely hitting and we didn’t have it.”
Lynn starter Antony Mateo also pitched a solid game. Mateo threw seven innings, fanned three Plymouth batters and allowed two earned runs on six hits.
The Lynners didn’t have their best game on defense, as they committed seven errors in the loss. Plymouth was ready to make them pay on each miscue.
“Plays we usually make, we didn’t make,” O’Connor said. “They were mistakes that we don’t normally make. Plymouth’s a smart team. Almost every time they had a baserunner they figured out a way to score. They’re a good team.”
Plymouth scored two runs in the top of the first to claim an early lead. Alec Peruzzi (3-for-4) roped a one-out single and Bradley Blasberg reached on an infield error. Tommy Sullivan followed with a single, scoring Peruzzi and Blasberg to give Plymouth a 2-0 edge.
Lynn started the bottom half of the first on the right foot, with back-to-back singles from Anthony Marino (2-for-3) and Christian Moran (1-for-3). But a fielder’s choice, a pickoff at first base and a groundout ended the inning and Lynn missed a key opportunity.
Alex Steck reached on an error to start the top of the second. Steck, who stole second and third, scored on a sacrifice-fly from Brycen Tetler to give Plymouth a 3-0 lead.
Peruzzi singled to leadoff the top of the third and swiped second base. Another Lynn error allowed Peruzzi to cross home plate, bumping Plymouth’s lead to 4-0.
While Plymouth took advantage of Lynn’s miscues, Keating kept the Lynners off the scoreboard. Keating retired Lynn in order in the bottom halves of the second and third innings. He induced a pair of pop-flies to escape a jam in the bottom of the fourth when Marino and Aaron O’Connor (2-for-3) each singled.
Plymouth capped its scoring in the fifth when Peruzzi hit a two-out single and scored on an error.
Down 5-0, Lynn attempted to string together a late rally in the seventh. Aaron O’Connor led the frame with a single and Mateo (1-for-3) followed suit with a single of his own. Refusing to lose his cool, Keating fanned the next two Lynn batters and induced a groundout to seal the 5-0 shutout win.
Despite the loss, O’Connor said he’s proud of his team’s effort through another impressive state tournament run.
“This team is unbelievable,” O’Connor said. “They’re all best friends. They’re all wet-eyed because they didn’t want it to end. We swept districts, we swept the North and we ran into a tough lefty. That’s what happens. These are the games that you have to play perfect and we didn’t.”