LYNN — When you’re undefeated, it’s easy to let the pressure get to you with each passing game. But don’t tell that to the Lynn Babe Ruth 14-year-old All-Stars.
Lynn defeated Parkway 6-3 Tuesday night at Bowzer Complex to remain unbeaten in state tournament play.
With the victory, Lynn punched its ticket to Thursday’s (TBA) semifinal game an opponent to be determined.
“It gets magnified but these guys just don’t quit,” Lynn manager Paul Hartford said. “They believe in themselves, they don’t get down. They get punched in the mouth and they say, ‘that’s all you got?’ I can’t believe how resilient they are. They’re together as a team and they don’t let each other down.”
Brady Bullock and John Diaz paired up to get the job done on the mound. Starter Bullock struggled with command (seven walks) but limited Parkway to one run through 4 1/3 innings. Diaz took care of the rest in relief.
“Brady battles,” Hartford said. “It’s not easy but he battles and works hard. He gets a little frustrated on himself but that’s because he’s such a perfectionist. He doesn’t give in.”
Aggressive baserunning made the difference in this one. Lynn scored four runs on passed balls.
“It’s what my style is,” Hartford said. “I take chances. I take chances most people wouldn’t. I know my kids can run. They’re always ready to run. We watch what the catchers can do, how they throw. We watch the infielders. We take those chances that most people wouldn’t and they paid off again.”
Bullock worked his way out of a jam in the top of the first with help from a 3-6-4 double play.
Lynn pushed across three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Bullock, Lynn’s leadoff batter, walked to start the rally and stole second base. Yordy Contreras (1-for-3, RBI) brought Bullock (1-for-1, RBI) home with a RBI single. Consecutive passed balls allowed Contreras and Deniel Ortiz, who reached via error, to sprint home for the 3-0 lead.
An errant throw on a steal attempt helped Parkway find the board in the top of the second, closing the gap to 3-1.
Lynn had three runners reach base in the bottom of the second but two of them were thrown out attempting to steal second base, keeping Parkway in a two-run deficit.
Parkway threatened in the top of the third. The visitors loaded the bases on a one-out double and consecutive walks. Bullock escaped the inning unscathed on a strikeout and a groundout.
In the top of the fifth, Bullock surrendered a one-out walk before giving way to reliever Diaz. Parkway tagged Diaz for a pair of RBI singles to knot the score at 3-3.
It didn’t take long for Lynn to punch back. Diaz found his way to second base on an errant Parkway throw to lead the bottom of the fifth. Bullock plated Diaz with a RBI double to left field, giving Lynn a 4-3 edge. Lynn added two more runs to its lead with Bullock scoring on an errant throw and Sam Ohannesian racing home after a passed ball.
“I huddled them up (in the middle of the fifth inning) and asked them, ‘you guys just got punched in the mouth, what are you going to do about it?'” Hartford said. “They responded and that’s what they’ve done every game. This tournament has been tough for us. We’ve played tough games but every time we fall behind we come right back. They refuse to lose.”
Diaz pitched his way through a one-out single in the top of the sixth to keep Parkway at bay. He sealed the deal with a quick seventh inning, highlighted by a 4-6-3 double play, for the 6-3 win.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to get John prepared,” Hartford said. “To be honest I didn’t know who I was going with. (Assistant) coach Dave Galeazzi suggested I go with John. He played on my regular season team. John battles. Once he settled in I knew he’d be fine.”