LOWELL, Mass. -– The Acton-Boxborough Colonials rode the left arm and bat of senior Ryan McDonald on Thursday night as they defeated Chelmsford 4-2 in the Mickey Sullivan Baseball Classic at the Lowell Spinners' Lalacheur Park.
McDonald tossed 6.1 innings of one run baseball before giving way to reliever Ethan Dukes, who battled a spirited seventh inning Chelmsford (13-7) comeback for the save.
“Ryan (McDonald) is a bulldog for us,” said A-B head coach Patrick Grucela. “His pitch count was a little high but he just works hard, throws in the mid 80’s and he also trusts his catcher and the game we are trying to call.”
McDonald struck out eight and walked five while surrendering only four hits and two runs on the evening.
“It killed me not to finish it as that is what I strive to do,” said McDonald. “I feel proud that we finished it off as a team and it boosts our confidence.”
Chelmsford’s Mike Rosa had the games only extra base hit in the fourth inning as the junior outfielder laced a double over the head of leaping center fielder Thulani Denaro. Rosa would later score the Lions’ first run of the game on an RBI single by junior third baseman Conor Barry.
Chelmsford lefthander Russell Olive relieved sophomore classmate Quinn Cooney in the third inning and went the rest of the way for the Lions on the mound.
More from McDonald: McDonald not excelled on the mound but he also provided three solid singles and helped his own cause in the third inning when he drove in Billy Jackman with a rip to left center for the game’s first run.
“I was looking for my pitch to hit and Coach (Grucela) always provides us with a good scouting report on all the pitchers we face,” said McDonald. “I just took that into the game today and it worked out.”
McDonald’s 3-for-4 performance at the plate led the A-B hitting attack that also featured two hits each from John Mielke and Andrew Sweet. The Colonials had 10 hits in the game.
Squeeze Play: A-B executed a perfect suicide squeeze in the fifth inning as Mielke laid the bunt down and Joe Euele timed it perfectly and scored. The run gave the Colonials a 4-1 lead at the time.
“We should have actually squeezed in the second,” noted Grucela. “The same situation came up again in the fifth and I learned from my mistake. That was a big play. We got the bunt down, we did not break too early and it was great execution on the kid’s part.”
Late Inning Rally: Chelmsford second baseman David DeDonato scored on a Dukes wild pitch after reaching on a single to lead off the seventh inning.
The Lions got the potential game tying run on second base but Dukes would battle out of a bases loaded situation and get Barry to fly out to center to end the game.
“I was proud of the way we came out but I was more proud of the way we finished,” said Grucela. “We have been preaching all season to be mentally tough when those moments come up and I think we did a great job of that today.”
D1 Tournament Bound: Both teams will be headed back to the MIAA Division 1 state tournament next week. A-B concluded their regular season with today’s win and finish with a 14-6 overall record.
“That is why we play those teams like Lowell twice, BC High, and Chelmsford,” Grucela said. “Those teams really prepare you for the tournament which we were fortunate enough to make this year.”
Chelmsford concludes their season this weekend as they travel to Wilmington to take part in the Dick Scanlon tournament on Saturday and Sunday. Participating teams include Salem, Wayland and host Wilmington. Chelmsford faces off against Salem at 3 p.m. on Saturday, with the Championship and Consolation games taking place on Sunday.