LYNN — The Lynn Babe Ruth 16-18-year-old All-Stars are one win away from a bid in the World Series. They’ll play Cape Cod Tuesday afternoon (1) at Fraser Field for the New England Regional crown.
The Lynners, who’ve ran through the winner’s bracket of the regional tournament undefeated, are in the driver’s seat. Cape Cod has to defeat Lynn twice in order to advance. If Cape Cod defeats Lynn in the first game, a winner-takes-all tilt will be played immediately after. Both games will be played at Fraser Field.
Lynn and Cape Cod clashed against one another last Saturday, when the Lynners earned a 6-1 win. Pitcher Lou Vidal led the way by tossing a no-hitter. Zach Elwell (2-for-3 with 2 RBI) led Lynn at the plate. Anthony Nikolakakis (1-for-3), Danny Lilja (1-for-1) and Colin Reddy (2-for-3) each had 1 RBI.
The regional run began last Thursday with a 2-0 win over Keene (N.H). Devin Curley tossed seven shutout innings and fanned seven. Nikolakakis logged the game’s lone RBI and Kyle Ouellette went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Lynn continued its winning ways with a 10-0 win over Norwalk (CT) last Friday.
Through its three regional games, Lynn has outscored its opponents 18-1.
“The pitching has been absolutely phenomenal,” Lynn coach Al Donovan, who works alongside manager Leon Elwell, said. “We have great pitchers, top pitchers from Lynn schools, Swampscott and Fenwick. David Furtado came in and closed up a game for us. He finished this past season with nine wins, among the leaders in the Catholic Central League. Lou Vidal and Devin Curley have been lights out for us. David Barnard has done this for the past three years.
Donovan added, “It’s amazing that our pitching has allowed just one run in three games.”
Offensively, Lynn has seen contributions from up-and-down its order. After a tough American Legion season, Lynn’s depth has paid dividends as the team finds itself on the cusp on a World Series appearance.
Jomar Moreta starts things off from the leadoff spot and the likes of Nikolakakis, Reddy, Lilja, Elwell, Barnard, Ouellette and Dayshon Anderson pick it up from there. After a 2-0 win that saw Lynn leave runners on base throughout the night, the Lynners found their rhythm to form a consistent, balanced attack.
“It’s been a great team effort,” Donovan said. “Pitching, defense and timely hitting have all been there. We’ve gotten it all. Cape Cod is a well-coached team. We have to minimize our mistakes physically and mentally, and be ready from the first pitch to the last pitch.”
Although Lynn defeated Cape Cod in the first meeting between the two all-star squads, Donovan doesn’t give that win too much weight heading into Tuesday’s final. Donovan feels Cape Cod will come ready to play with higher stakes on the line this time around.
“Cape Cod plays very good defense,” Donovan said. “They’re well-coached. They have a lot of talent. On the field, they don’t beat themselves. We know what we’re facing in their No. 1 pitcher. He’s a lefty that spots the ball well. We have to score a few runs early and get some pressure on them.”
Lynn has maintained a busy schedule throughout the summer with the American Legion season keeping the team in action often. The Lynners played nine games in 11 days before starting the Babe Ruth regionals. They followed with three regional tilts in three days. Elwell and Donovan agreed the best thing to do Monday was to give their players a chance to breathe and relax before playing a marquee game.
“Our guys have been in a lot of tight games this summer,” Donovan said. “We played a tough American Legion schedule. That really prepares you. Coming into the regionals we played nine games in 11 days. We played Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That makes 12 games in 14 days. That’s a grind. These guys have hung in there and it’s a total team effort.”
One factor working in Lynn’s favor is the team has no shortage of big game experience on its roster. A handful of Lynn’s players were also on the Babe Ruth 15-year-old All-Star team that traveled to North Dakota for the World Series two summers ago, with Elwell also managing that group.
“They know what they’re playing for,” Donovan said. “We’re not trying to get too ahead of ourselves. We have a core of these kids that played in the World Series as 15-year-olds a few years ago. They have that experience. They had a great run with Coach Elwell. Here they are two years later, fighting for a spot in the World Series representing the New England region.”