PLYMOUTH, Mass. -– For the second time in less than a week, the Silver Lake baseball team got the best of Plymouth North because of some gutsy base running, this time slipping past the Eagles, 5-2, to advance to Thursday’s championship of the Brad Martin Tournament against No. 1 Bridgewater-Raynham.
All five of the Lakers' runs were a byproduct of aggressive base running, coming on the heels of SL tying last week’s game against North on a straight steal of home.
“That’s just how we play,” said Silver Lake coach Ken Tocci. “We’re going to be aggressive out there and we’re going to make the defense make plays. If teams don’t want us to do that stuff, they need to stop it.”
Tanner Bouchard (2-for-4, 3 runs) set the tone for the Lakers (6-1) in the top of the first. He led off the game with a double down the right field line, then took third on a hard hit ball that took the shortstop toward centerfield.
After the fielder’s choice, he scampered home on a ball that slipped through the catcher’s legs for a 1-0 advantage.
After Plymouth North got a run in each of the third and fourth innings, Bouchard tied the game with his legs in the sixth. He walked to lead off the inning, then moved to second on a dropped pop-up in the outfield.
Dancing off second, continually faking to break for third, Bouchard and Matt Cauchon were both awarded a base when North starter Brian Christian was called a balk.
One pitch later, Bouchard darted home as the ball again squirted between the catcher’s legs. The junior took off without hesitation, before the ball was clearly headed for the backstop.
“He was in the wind-up, so I had a little extra hop,” said Bouchard. “With this turf, I know it’s just going to fly away. Right when I saw get it away I just took off.”
From there, walks to both Anthony Videtto and Adam Gay loaded the bases, setting up another bold play on the bases. The Lakers added another run after Ryne McNeilly dropped a successful suicide squeeze, something that came as a surprise after the Lakers lost a runner on a failed attempt earlier in the game.
“We really do live and die by that style of play,” said Tocci. “We weren’t going to give up on being aggressive because it didn’t work one time. We had a guy not get the squeeze down before, and that time we got a guy in there who we knew would. With a pinch hitter coming in and the bases loaded, I didn’t think they be expecting the squeeze. I probably wouldn’t have expected it.”
Said North coach Dwayne Follette: “I was surprised he squeezed again because we sniffed it out the first time. Give them credit, that’s their game.”
If the squeeze wasn’t enough, Silver Lake tallied its third run of the sixth when Will Gallagher blistered a grounder toward third. Videtto was forced out at the plate, but Gallagher beat the following throw to first base to keep the inning going.
Gay had broken hard from second base on the play and never slowed as he hit third, turning for home and just beating a return throw to the plate to put SL up 4-2.
“He was watching me, and if I don’t hold him up he know he has the green light to go,” said Tocci. “Coming around, he takes a peek over his shoulder and if he thinks he’s got it, he’s going. It’s all on him. If he got thrown, well, we live by the sword and die by the sword. Make them make the play.”
Bouchard tacked on the final run in the seventh, reaching on an error then taking second on a passed ball, stealing third, and scoring on another ball to the back stop.
“We’re playing very young and bad baseball right now,” said Follette. “We had three passed balls for runs. We’re just not playing good baseball right now. The one thing I know is we’re getting quality pitching. Brian pitched his butt off, and he deserved to get the win.”
The Northeastern bound Christian didn’t allow an earned run, striking out eight and surrendering three hits and four walks in the loss.
Unfortunately for Christian and Plymouth North, Videtto was impressive on the mound for the Lakers. He mixed up speeds pretty well and hit enough spots to toss a complete game, allowing four hits and walking three, but gave up just one earned even though he only recorded one strikeout.
“Anthony didn’t have his best stuff today,” said Tocci. “He’s thrown games this year where he looked better out there, but the good ones find a way to compete without their top stuff, and he did that for us today.”