LYNN — St. Mary’s baseball coach Derek Dana has about as much experience playing the game of baseball as anyone in this area, and if he’s learned one thing it is this: never take a play off.
“We preach that to the kids all the time,” he said after his team’s 2-1 win over No. 3 Greater Lowell in the Division 2 North semifinal Wednesday night at Fraser Field.
“You go all out, every play,” he said. “Run out every ground ball. Back up bases. You do enough of those little things, and things can end up going your way.
“We tell them all the time to put pressure on the other team,” he said.
The No. 2 Spartans put that practice into play against the Gryphons. And because of that, they’ll be playing in the sectional final Saturday (3) against No. 4 Woburn at Fraser.
The No. 2 Spartans (18-5) got the winning run home in the bottom of the fifth on a strange play. With one out, Lee Pacheco lifted a towering fly ball to left that kept drifting away from the Gryphons’ Jacob Trzcienski and toward left-center. By the time it dropped between the two fielders Pacheco was rounding second and steaming for third with a triple.
After DJ DiCenso was called out on strikes, Dana sent junior Austin Foglietta up to pinch hit. Foglietta hit a quail that looked as if first baseman Brian Bosia would catch easily. But they’re called quails for a reason. The ball dipped and Bosia ended up diving for the ball, trapping it. When he turned to throw the ball to first, there was no one on the bag.
Foglietta, running full stride, beat Bosia to the bag as Pacheco crossed the plate.
“Give (Foglietta) credit,” said Dana. “He busted his butt running down to first. He put the ball in play. That’s No. 1, and he busted his butt down the line.”
Dana was happy with all aspects of the game. Pacheco made a nice scoop on a throw from shortstop Jared Coppola to get the third out in the first inning after the Gryphons had runners on first and second. Terence Moynihan kept a hot grounder in front of him, which kicked over to Coppola, who in turn, was able to turn it into a force play at second in the third, when the Gryphons scored their only run. And Kyle Ouellette committed larceny in the fourth, running from right-center to dead center, diving, and snaring Matt Gaudette’s line drive.
“The defense picked up the offense,” said Dana, “and we got good pitching.”
Freshman Aiven Cabral pitched into the fifth inning, giving up four hits, before giving way to Coppola, who picked up the save, retiring seven straight hitters.
“Cabral pitched very well,” said Dana, “and Jared did what he always does. He wanted the ball. We’ve come to expect it.”
Greater Lowell took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third thanks to a couple of Spartan misplays.
“We had a lapse,” said Dana, “but we kept it to a minimum.”
However, St. Mary’s tied the game in the bottom of the inning on DiCenso’s base hit that scored Coppola, who had singled and stole second.