D3 EMass Final: Middleborough 10, Whittier 1

LYNN, Mass. -- The postseason has been kind so far for Middleborough junior Taylor Frazier, and Wednesday night was no different.

He toed the rubber in the Division 3 Eastern Mass Championship game against Whittier Tech and tossed a complete game, giving up only four hits and one run in his team’s 10-1 victory.

Frazier was both economical and effective with his pitches and even seemed to throw harder as the game went on. Five of the six Whittier batters he faced in the fifth and sixth innings struck out.

“My arm definitely gets stronger around the fourth or fifth inning,” he said. “It’s probably just stretching out. The more and more pitches I throw, the better my arm feels because in the beginning of the game, my off-speed doesn’t really work, but later it gets going so it helps me.”

Having the lead allowed Frazier to attack the zone without worrying about making a mistake and potentially costing his team the game. It also helped that the Whittier hitters were swinging away early in the count. Fourteen batters he faced made contact three or less pitches into the at-bat. Because of this, Frazier was able to keep his overall pitch count down, finishing the game with only 84 pitches, and be effective late in the game.

“That’s been his whole season,” said Middleborough (20-5) coach Bill Lawrence, in reference to Frazier’s late-game performance. “He gets his curveball up and established, and it makes his fastball look a little faster. He’s not afraid, he’s aggressive.”

Whittier’s (18-7) only run came in the fourth inning after Jaylin Deveau and Ralph Francesconi hit back-to-back singles. Deveau got himself into scoring position and scored easily on the Francesconi hit. The sophomore was thrown out at second base, trying to stretch the single into extra bases.

Frazier was able to pitch aggressively from the start with his team scoring at least one run in four of the first five innings. Devan Doucette, the Whittier starter, walked both Neil Perry and Kevin Huscher in the bottom of the first. A wild pitch and a passed ball moved the runners into scoring position. Cody Younger grounded out to short, but the ball was hit softly enough that the shortstop could not make a play at the plate and had to settle for the out at first.

From there, the lead continued to grow. The Middleborough offense truly broke the game open in the fifth with a five-run, three-hit inning.

“That’s why it’s such a team sport, they help me out with the bats and I help them out in the field,” said Frazier. “Every pitcher loves pitching with such a big lead.”

Wednesday was Frazier’s third victory in this postseason. Lawrence said that because his pitch count was not exceptionally high, he will be available to pitch in some role Saturday when the team plays for the Division 3 State Championship.

Unorthodox putout: A rare play occurred in the top of the fifth inning. Jorge Martinez, the Whittier first baseman, struck out swinging to lead off the inning. However, the ball got away from the catcher, which allowed Martinez to try to run to first and get on base. He beat the throw from Middleborough catcher Cody Braga, but rather than run past the bag into foul territory, he cut into the field of play.

The throw arrived late to first, Middleborough first baseman Cody Younger had the presence of mind to tag Martinez out since he was still an active baserunner. Martinez could not get back to the base in time and was called out.

Feeling no pain: The mood around the Middleborough team is surprisingly light heading into Saturday’s Division 3 State Final. It is surprising, considering nobody on the team has been this deep in the postseason before. The school last won a state baseball title was in 1997.

After the game, things were kept light-hearted as a teammate tried to sneak into the postgame media scrum around Frazier by using a sleeve of his jacket as a makeshift voice recorder, much to the delight of his teammates looking on. This forced Frazier to break out in a laugh mid-sentence before collecting himself and continuing.

“We’re goofing off, even on the bus rides here,” he said.” But when we need to get serious, we get serious. We’re all just a big group of friends who like to have fun. There’s no point in playing baseball if you’re not having fun.”