LYNN– The St. Mary’s baseball team is on to the Division 2 state championship game.
Led by seven shutout innings from ace Bobby Alcock and two RBI from Jared Coppola, the No. 2 Spartans claimed the Division 2 North sectional crown with a 5-0 win over No. 4 Woburn Saturday at Fraser Field.
“The kids come to practice every day and we talk about how every game we play is the most important game of the year,” Spartans coach Derek Dana said. “I’ve told them that from the beginning of the year. In this setting, it is the most important game of the season. You either win or you go home. We’ve tried to apply that and kids have seen it. We have one more opportunity.”
Alcock struck out seven and allowed five hits with one walk. He has yet to allow a run through 15 innings of work in two postseason starts.
“Bobby did what he needed to do on the mound,” Dana said. “He pounded the strike zone and got outs when we needed to get outs. He never let anything get out of control.
“I’ve had a lot of confidence in Bobby since he was a sophomore,” Dana said. “He’s taken the ball every time I’ve asked him to. He’s pitched two shutouts. He did exactly what he did (against Belmont in the quarterfinal round), he didn’t let the other team score. When you do that, you have a great chance to win. He wants the ball right now. He’s doing what a senior leader does.”
Coppola finished 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored. Leadoff batter Colin Reddy reached base in all three plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored.
The Spartans grabbed a quick lead in the bottom of the first. Reddy led the inning with a walk and advanced to second base on Kyle Oullette’s sacrifice bunt. In stepped No. 3 hitter Coppola, who roped a RBI single to get his Spartans on the board.
St. Mary’s offense went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the second but the Spartans got back on track in the third. Again it was Reddy who got things started, this time with a 1-out single. Coppola brought Reddy home with a RBI double, padding the lead to 2-0.
“Jared’s been our best hitter all year long,” Dana said. “But the other guys pick him up if there’s an off day. He’s got all the confidence in the world. He plays shortstop, third base and closes games. The other day (semifinal win over Greater Lowell) he had a 2-inning save. He wanted the ball but he knew Bobby wanted to close it out. I love that they all pick each other up and they all want to compete.”
John Mulready followed suit with a single and came home on a 3-base error, putting St. Mary’s ahead 4-0.
That was more than enough insurance for Alcock to seal the deal. Alcock worked around a 1-out walk and a 2-out single in the top of the first, a 2-out error in the second, a 1-out single in the third and back-to-back 1-out singles in the top of the fourth. But Alcock didn’t keep the Tanners off the board without help from his defense.
“I like the way we played,” Dana said. “Bobby has been outstanding on the mound- that’s two games in a row. The defense has made outstanding plays. (Outfielder) Terence (Moynihan) made a huge play early in the game. He saved two runs just running the ball down. The defense couldn’t have played much better behind him.”
St. Mary’s added a run to its lead in the bottom of the sixth. Lee Pacheco laced a single to lead the frame and stole second base. Terence Moynihan sent a grounder to second base and an errant Woburn throw allowed Pacheco to cross home plate.
Back-to-back groundouts in the top of the seventh (the second was a highlight-reel play from second baseman Reddy) left the Tanners down to their last out. A 2-out single kept the inning alive before Alcock shut the door with a grounder to third to seal the 5-0 win.
The Spartans will play South sectional champion Hopkinton Thursday (7) at Lowell’s Alumni Field for the Division 2 state championship.