LYNN– A year ago, the St. Mary’s Spartans were the only team in the Nipper Clancy Tournament to lose both games. This time around, St. Mary’s flipped the script.
Richard Pagliuca drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh, giving St. Mary’s a 6-5 win over English in the tournament’s championship game Saturday at Fraser Field.
“I’m happy for the kids,” St. Mary’s coach Derek Dana said. “They’ve worked hard this year. The seniors have done a great job. I’d like to see us clean some things up but we made some nice plays, too. I feel good for the kids winning this tournament, especially after going 0-2 last year. Winning the Clancy’s one of our goals every year.”
In a back-and-forth battle from start to finish, English had the Spartans right where it wanted them when the Bulldogs led 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth. St. Mary’s rallied for three runs in the inning. English tied things up at 5-5 on Andy Duverge’s RBI double in the top of the seventh before the Spartans sealed the walk-off.
“Anytime you lose a championship game in a tournament it’s disappointing,” English coach Doug Mullins said. “We made mistakes. Having said that, I’m not disappointed in my guys. I’m proud of them. They played their hearts out. Sometimes that’s baseball.”
Freshman Aiven Cabral took the mound for St. Mary’s and struck out nine over six innings. Cabral allowed two earned runs on seven hits.
English’s Juan Subervi went four innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits.
St. Mary’s took a 1-0 lead on Jared Coppola’s (1-for-4, RBI) RBI double in the bottom of the first. Ethan Labbe’s (1-for-3, RBI) RBI single in the top of the second knotted the score at 1-1. Cabral (1-for-3, RBI) helped his own cause with a RBI single in the bottom of the inning, giving the Spartans a 2-1 edge. Jomar Moreta (3-for-4, RBI) evened things up at 2-2 with a RBI double in the third.
Things settled down until Moreta and the Bulldogs capitalized on St. Mary’s miscues in the fifth. Albert Torres reached via error with two outs. Moreta followed with a single and a misplayed ball allowed both Torres and Moreta to score, giving English a 4-2 lead.
Labbe, in relief of Subervi, worked around a pair of walks in the bottom of the fifth but the Bulldogs ran into trouble in the sixth. Andrew Luciano cut English’s lead to 4-3 when he scored on DJ DiCenso’s (2-for-3, RBI) RBI single. Pinch-runner Connor Donohue crossed home plate on a Bulldogs error. St. Mary’s took a 5-4 lead on Kyle Ouellette’s bases-loaded walk.
Showing no quit, Moreta reached on an error with two outs in the top of the seventh. Duverge’s RBI double (1-for-4, RBI) brought Moreta home with the tying run.
“Andy’s a little guy in stature but he’s got some pop in his bat,” Mullins said. “Most importantly, he has heart. He got a hairline fracture to his nose Thursday night. We didn’t think he’d play all weekend. He got the biggest hit of the game.”
Pagliuca’s bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the inning brought John Mulready (2-for-4) home with the winning run.
“I give our kids credit, they stayed with it,” Dana said. “It wasn’t a very clean game on both sides. We were fortunate to get it done.
“Take nothing away from English,” Dana said. “We were fortunate enough to capitalize on some of their mistakes. I think Coach Mullins is doing a really good job. He has those kids playing hard.”
St. Mary’s (13-5) hosts Lowell Catholic Wednesday (4).
English (12-6) hopes to bounce back Wednesday (4) at Marblehead.
“Overall it was a good weekend,” Mullins said. “We wished for a different outcome. We’re not accepting losing by any means. We’re not happy about second place but it was a pretty good weekend. We’ll shift to Marblehead and we’ll do everything we can to grab that game. This whole weekend is only going to make us better.”
Coppola was named tournament MVP.
In the consolation game, North Reading punched its ticket to the Division 3 North state tournament with a 7-2 win over Classical.