LYNN– St. Mary’s baseball coach Derek Dana knew this game was coming.
In a pitcher’s duel capped by an unlikely ending, No. 2 Spartans sophomore Kory Ouellette scored the winning run on a passed ball in Monday’s 1-0 victory over No. 7 Belmont in the Division 2 North quarterfinal at Fraser Field.
“This shows that you have to play until the last out,” Dana said. “You’re never out of it until the last out is made. I’ve been telling our kids that since the first day we walked into the gym, that this game was coming- the most important game of the season. Now we have another one that’s the most important one of the season.”
The player of the game, undoubtedly, was Spartans starter Bobby Alcock. In eight shutout innings, Alcock fanned eight and allowed three hits.
“This is probably the best game he’s ever pitched, and he’s pitched a perfect game before,” Dana said. “He pounded the strike zone, he didn’t really have any major threats, the kids played great defense behind him. He just did what he needed to do. He didn’t let them score.”
Belmont starter Mike Brown also brought his best effort. Brown went 7 2/3 innings and struck out 11.
“He was outstanding,” Dana said. “He had three different pitches, kept us off balance. Our guys have been swinging the bats pretty well and we couldn’t get much off him. He’s an outstanding competitor. I know he pitched real well down the stretch. He gave us everything we could handle. They both pitched great, we were just fortunate to come out on top.”
Alcock worked around a 2-out walk in the top of the second, a 1-out single in the top of the fourth and a 1-out single in the top of the fifth. He sent the Marauders three up, three down in the top of the first and third innings.
On the other side, Brown, a left-hander, was equally dominant. Brown kept the Spartans off the basepaths until Aiven Cabral drew a 1-out walk in the bottom of the third. Cabral stole second but Brown escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts. John Mulready laced a 2-out double in the bottom of the fourth for St. Mary’s lone hit. Brown squashed that threat with a strikeout.
“We’ve had some time off,” Dana said. “We had a 10-day layoff. We try to do the best we can with live pitching. With that being said, (Brown) is going to be tough no matter what. Yes, I’d like to see us compete a little bit more and I’m glad we get the chance to do so.”
It remained scoreless until the bottom of the eighth. Alcock, showing zero signs of wear, retired the side in order in the top half of the inning. Terence Moynihan reached on a passed ball with one out. Pinch-runner Kory Ouellette took second on another passed ball. Cabral walked, placing runners on first and second with one out. After a strikeout, Colin Reddy was hit by a pitch. That ended the afternoon for Brown, who was relieved by Martin Marintchev. But Marintchev’s relief appearance was a quick one, with Ouellette racing home on a passed ball for the winning run.
“We’ve been telling the kids from day one, ‘when your number’s called you have to know what you’re supposed to be doing'” Dana said. “Kory came through. He was the right man in the right spot.”
The Spartans will play No. 3 Greater Lowell in the sectional semifinal Wednesday (7) at Fraser Field.