LEXINGTON, Mass. -- It appeared the Lexington and Lowell High School baseball teams were destined to play extra innings Friday, just as they did the first time they played each other April 8. That is, until the Minutemen broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning, giving them an 8-4 victory and securing an undefeated season at 20-0.
"No Lexington team has won 18 games and we won 20," said Will Marcal, who pitched a complete game. "It hasn't been done by a Middlesex League team in a long time. This is unbelievable, it's great to be a part of history."
Marcal, a tall, hard-throwing lefty, surrendered nine hits, including a home run, two walks, but had 12 strikeouts in the victory.
He ran into the most trouble in the second inning. After Ben Ruxin scored on a wild pitch to put Lexington on the board, 1-0, in the first, Lowell's Matt Tulley came back in the top of the second and homered off Marcal to start the inning. That was the beginning of a four-run inning that saw R.J. Noel, Roger Roman, and Richard Gary each single to put Lowell (14-6) up 2-1. Derek Reed knocked in the next two runs with a double to right-center to make it 4-1.
Lexington answered back in the bottom of the inning when Demetri Monovoukas hit a two-run homer off Nick Godfroy to center cut the deficit to one. The Lexington bats went quiet over the next two innings, but that was not a problem since Marcal kept Lowell off the board for the rest of the game.
"I was saying if we could just keep it to a one-run game, I thought we'd definitely have a shot," said Marcal. "We did it in the first game of the year [against Lowell]. We were down three runs going into the last inning and it just really showed the teamwork that we had and everything clicked and everything came together."
It was a strong performance by a pitcher who, admittedly, did not begin the game at his best.
"I didn't start off the game with my best stuff," Marcal said. "Towards the end of the game I really started to feel it. I felt like my fastball was really jumping and I felt like I could stay on top of it. I think the command of my fastball was really what got me over the hump."
Godfroy kept the Lexington bats quiet for the next two innings, and was relieved in the fifth by Kyle Edwards. Overall, Godfroy finished with four innings of work, giving up three runs, four hits, with five strikeouts.
Edwards walked the first two batters he faced, but settled down and got a strikeout and a flyout to the next two. It seemed he was going to get out of the inning when he got Chris Shaw to hit a groundball to second, but the second baseman made an error on the play, sending the ball into right field, which allowed a runner to score, tying the game 4-4.
The damage continued in the sixth inning after Chad Gens came in to pitch for Lowell. He hit Charlie Guthrie on the first pitch of the inning, then gave up a single to Monovoukas, putting runners on the corners with one out. A failed double-play brought Guthrie home to put Lexington ahead 5-4. A hit batsman and two walks later, Lexington went up another run, which got Gens pulled from the game in favor of Noel.
Noel was not anymore effective for Lowell, giving up a two-run double to Marcal to make it 8-4.
Lexington's performance was all that much more impressive when considering the two teams could potentially cross paths again in the upcoming state tournament.
"They're a great team, this was a much closer game than the score indicated," said Lexington coach Tom O'Grady. "We got some big at-bats in the end. I certainly don't think winning this game can hurt us [going into the state tournament]."