SAUGUS— The Lynn Babe Ruth 15-year-old All-Stars are on to the state final.
Behind a complete-game shutout from starting pitcher Christian Moran and picture-perfect defense behind him, Lynn grabbed a 5-0 win over Newton in Thursday’s state semifinal at World Series Park.
The Lynners will play for the state championship against Braintree/Norwood Saturday (2) back at World Series.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Lynn manager Brian O’Connor said. “I’m proud of the coaches. My coaches have been great. The kids, they looked like the Boston Red Sox on defense out there. I’m pumped. I’m so happy for these kids.
“We’re excited. The kids are all jacked up. They’ve never been here. We’re going to give it our best shot.”
Moran, a right-hander, made quick work of Newton’s offense. Newton was limited to just three hits and three walks but Moran ran into little trouble.
“Christian’s just a champion,” O’Connor said. “It’s more of the same with him. When he gets going, when he throws a good game, he finds that groove and he keeps it moving. I trust him. That’s why I went with him. I had a gut feeling that Christian was going to have it.”
Whenever Newton put runners on base, Lynn’s defense found ways to end the threats without letting things get out of hand. Lynn turned five double-plays in total, three over the last three innings.
“The defense was sound,” O’Connor said. “Those are the things that we practice and that’s what they did. We made less mistakes than Newton did and that’s the story. It’s always the story. You have to make less mistakes.”
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the first, Lynn found the board in the bottom of the second. Aaron O’Connor (1-for-2, RBI) walked to lead the inning and took second base on Ethaniel Almendarez’s groundout. Aaron O’Connor raced to third base on a passed ball and scored on Jason Donohue’s (1-for-2, RBI) one-out RBI single. A flyout and a pop-up allowed Newton to finish the frame in a 1-0 hole.
Lynn rallied for three runs in the bottom of the third. Steven Galatis reached second base via error to get things started. Ryan Fraher (1-for-2, RBI), Lynn’s No. 9 hitter, followed with a RBI single to stretch the lead to 2-0. Moran scored via error and Aaron O’Connor laced a RBI single, plating Anthony Mateo (1-for-2), to put Lynn ahead 4-0 through three innings.
“We tell our kids, ‘hit it to opposite field, go with the pitch, step into an outside fastball,'” O’Connor said of his team’s approach at the plate. “Nobody’s trying to hit home runs.”
Lynn went down in order in the fourth and fifth innings before adding an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. No. 3 hitter Mateo ripped a double to left-center to put himself in scoring position. Aaron O’Connor’s fly-out to right field advanced Mateo to third base. Mateo sprinted home on a double-steal after Almendarez walked, padding the lead to 5-0.
Moran surrendered a leadoff single in the top of the seventh. But Lynn cleared the bases when Mateo scooped a grounder at second base, tagged the bag and made a clean throw to first for a double-play. After a 2-out walk and single put Newton runners on first and second, Moran ended the game with his third strikeout of the evening.
Lynn now shifts gears toward preparing for Saturday’s state final. Braintree and Norwood are slated to play Friday, weather permitting, for the right to battle Lynn.
“I’m hoping it’s a good game,” O’Connor said. “Hopefully we can play that type of defense again. I have no idea how those guys (Braintree/Norwood) are. We don’t know what to expect. We have to play small ball and we have to play good defense. Those are the keys.”
Lynn Babe Ruth 14’s
Plymouth 8, Lynn 6
The two teams were locked in a 6-6 tie going into the final frame before Plymouth scored twice in the top of the seventh to account for the difference.