Vikings get hot late, oust North Dorchester
CAMBRIDGE — Postponed a day by rain, last Saturday’s Class 1A East, Section I baseball playoff between No. 5 North Dorchester High and fourth-seeded host Cambridge-South Dorchester almost didn’t happen then, either.
But the efforts of Wally Harper, who’s been helping maintain sports fields in Dorchester County for over a decade, made all the difference.
“We wouldn’t have been able to play today if it wasn’t for Wally Harper,” C-SD head coach Chad Wolfe said. “He was out here at 6 a.m. working on the field, sweating for these kids. You can’t say enough about that.”
C-SD’s bats certainly didn’t have much say early in the game, lefty Eagle starter A.J. Willey mixing his pitches and keeping the home team off-balance as his team pulled ahead 4-0, and looked poised to pull an upset after an 0-16 regular season.
But, just as in the teams’ first meeting in March, when the Vikings early but eventually won 8-5, they managed to get it together as the game went on.
Two runs in the bottom of the third cut into the deficit, and two big offensive rallies late, along with four hitless innings of relief work by sophomore Josh Townsend to close it out, propelled the Vikings to an 11-4 defeat of their county rival.
“We started swinging at pitches in the strike zone after about the third inning,” Wolfe said. “A.J. did a great job against us early on. He’s a good pitcher; when he locates with his off-speed stuff he can be really hard to hit.”
C-SD had just a Devin Sparks single to show for two innings of work against Willey. In the top of the third, the Eagles staked their starter to a four-run lead, against Vikings righthander Matthew King.
With one out, Jerome Thomas reached on an error at short, and then stole second. Willey walked, and Tyler Windsor’s base hit to right field loaded the bases. Zach Revel fouled out to C-SD catcher Koby Schreiber for the second out, and for a moment it looked as if the Vikings would wriggle off the hook.
But then Andrew Jackson walked to score Thomas, and Tanner Warrell laced a two-run single to leftcenter field, scoring Willey and Windsor to make it 3-0. Peyton Lieske’s base hit brought Jackson home and made it 4-0.
King got the next hitter, Dajuan Malone, out on a fly ball to center field, ending the inning, as the Eagles stranded two men on base.
Then C-SD’s bats started to make contact.
With one out in the bottom of the third, Clint Meekins singled to left field and Michael Richardson walked. Evan Fishpaw popped up to second, the infield fly good for another out. Tyler Harding followed with a base-knock to left, loading the bases for the home team.
Schreiber, who missed the middle half of the regular season with a sore throwing shoulder, sliced a base hit to left field. Meekins and Richardson came in, cutting the Eagles’ advantage to 4-2.
But Willey got Sparks out on a pop to short, ending the rally.
Townsend, on in relief to start the fourth, was stingy, allowing just one baserunner in his first three innings on the bump, in the form of a one-out walk to Thomas in the fourth. The sophomore right-hander eventually struck out five.
At the plate, the Vikings picked up the pace in the fifth, taking the lead for good.
Richardson’s single to center began the fourrun C-SD rally. Fishpaw chopped a bouncer to second base that looked like a possible double-play ball, but there wasn’t enough force behind the flip from second to shortstop Thomas, standing on second base. The ball fell short, and both runners were safe on the error.
“We seemed to start out good; we’ve done that a few times this year,” first-year North Dorchester head coach Steve Lieske said. “But then the mental lapses came along . ... We fell asleep one inning, and then when we get behind, we lose focus, and the wheels kind of come off on us.”
Harding followed with a bunt single that loaded the bases with no outs. Schreiber came up next, and delivered another tworun single, tying the game. Harding made third on the hit, and when the throw in from right missed the cutoff man, Schreiber grabbed second. A Sparks grounder to third scored Harding to put C-SD ahead, to stay, as things turned out, while Schreiber rolled into third base.
Brandon Tibbs’s base hit up the middle two batters later made it 6-4.
C-SD added five runs in the bottom of the sixth against two ND relievers; the first run scored on a wild pitch, then two more on another, when the Eagles’ fielding didn’t hustle retrieving the ball, which rolled to the backstop.
Matt Elliott (2-for-4, two doubles) doubled to deep left-center, driving in the final two runs of the game.
Though Townsend walked pinch-hitter Jordan Smith with two out, and a Harding fielding error put Revel on base a moment later, he fanned the next hitter to end the game.