LEOMINSTER — After rallying to win the first game of the Worcester County Baseball League championship series on Saturday night, falling down 3-0 in the first inning of Sunday’s winner-take-all championship game wasn’t exactly the way Northboro drew it up against Leominster.
But adversity is something Northboro has learned to overcome, as Post 234 used a seven-run sixth inning to break open a 4-4 game as Northboro captured the WCBL title with an 11-5 victory over Leominster at McLaughlin Field.
“These guys, we got down 3-0 in the first inning but we’ve been battling back all year and the kids did a real good job of coming back and that sixth inning was huge,” Northboro manager Ken MacDonald said.
Jack Connor and Jack Choate had two biggest hits of that sixth inning. Connor ripped a two-run double to the left-field gap to make it 6-4. Later in the frame, Choate launched an opposite field three-run homer into the net in left-center to push the lead to 11-4.
“They thought we were out of the game in the first inning and we just said no, we’re not going to let that happen,” Connor said.
In that decisive sixth inning, Drew Lewis-Keddy, walked to lead off the inning before a Jeff Lamothe single. Brendan McCafferty put Northboro ahead with a RBI single down the first base line. Connor followed with his double to make it 7-4.
“It was a close game and I really wanted to put the team ahead and we’ve all been fighting all year for this and I couldn’t let the team down,” Connor said. “My situation, I was trying to get those guys in, at least one of them and I was just trying to put a swing on the ball and do what I could. I’m really happy.”
After Patrick Solomon doubled to deep center to plate another run, Pat Kelley drew a walk before Choate’s missile left the yard.
“I told the boys on the sideline before, we were up a couple runs, I’m just going to try and put one out, swing as hard as I can,” Choate said. “I got one right there.”
Leominster jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first thanks to a two-run double from Tom Halliwell and a RBI single from Evan McCarthy. Northboro answered in the second with two runs. In the bottom of the second Sean Dutton’s RBI single gave Leominster the lead again at 4-3, but Nick Choate’s sac-fly tied at in the top of the third.
Northboro relievers Mike Rogers and Timmy Wang pitched six quality innings, allowing Northboro to break the game open in the sixth.
“We played seven games in the last seven days and we’ve had to use a lot of pitching,” MacDonald said. “Give credit to the guys that pitched today and Timmy Wang did a great job of closing the game out.”
MacDonald credited his team for never giving in.
“We have great leadership,” MacDonald said. “You’ve got Jack Choate on the team who is a college player and he does a really good job of keeping the guys focused and positive and at any point we can come back. We’ve got enough bats in this lineup to be able to score runs at any time.”
Leominster manager Jeff Dedeian said overall while not the ending he was hoping for, it was a great to be able to just play.
“It was a great summer and a great group of kids,” Dedian said. “We played awful in the two biggest games that mattered. Northboro deserved to win, simple enough. But I’m glad we got an opportunity to get out here and play and have a fun year.”
Just getting that chance to play was something Northboro appreciated as well.
“We don’t want to lose,” Connor said. “We’re all winners and we’re all really upset we lost our high school season, all the seniors, and we saw this was our chance to show that we meant business. We didn’t want anyone to tell us we were out.”
“This league wasn’t really supposed to happen for a while there so getting to play with the guys, we had a ton of fun,” Jack Choate added. “Especially at the end of the year, we started winning games again, got in that mentality, and it was just an awesome season.”
—Contact Chris Kyne at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @tgsports.
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