LOWELL, Mass. -- The clock has finally struck midnight on Franklin's magical, even Cinderella-ish run through the Division 1 tournament.
Lincoln-Sudbury's bats struck often and early, to the tune of 20 total hits, as they cruised to a 16-2 win over the Panthers (16-9) at Alumni Field to make their third state final appearance in seven seasons.
The Warriors (23-4) will face Western Mass champion Minnechaug -- themselves a surprise contender, entering the postseason a No. 10 seed at 10-10 but winning five straight -- Saturday at Lynn's Fraser Field for the state title.
"We hit the ball very well," L-S head coach Kirk Fredericks said. "We took advantage of and used a lot of the things we practice all the time, to get up on them and work some things in, which is great."
L-S wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning, with senior catcher Mike Barry (2 for 4, four RBI) driving in Carl Anderson with a sacrifice fly to left field out of the cleanup spot. Keith Anderson (3 for 4, three RBI) and Ricky Antonellis (2 for 4) each drove in a run in the next two at bats to make it 3-0.
Then in the fourth, already ahead 5-0, the Warriors exploded for five more to blow this thing wide open, with Keith Anderson, Ryan Bassinger and Barry all driving in runs. Barry then made it 12-0 in the fifth, blasting an 0-2 curveball over left.
"I thought they were going to throw me a curveball, and I guess I got a good piece of it," Barry said.
Said Fredericks of Barry, "Michael's been struggling a little bit when we've been taking batting practice, I was concerned that his technique was a little off. But in games, he brings it right home." Asked to elaborate on what techniques, Fredericks simply said, "That's between Michael and myself."
The Warriors beat Worcester Tech for the Division 2 title in 2005, and Algonquin two seasons later for the D1 crown. Based on a snapshot of tonight, one has to like their chances for a third title.
Like the Panthers one day earlier in their walkoff win over Xaverian for the South crown, L-S demonstrated mature plate instincts, balance patience and aggression at the right times. Adam Ravenelle, Dan Cellucci and Brian Carroll (two RBI) also drove in runs to help the effort.
All of it made the job for its starter, Bryant-bound senior lefty Carl Anderson, that much more comfortable. In five innings of work, he Anderson struck out four batters, allowed four hits and gave up one earned run. Five pitchers combined for the final four innings of relief.
"I don't think Carl will tell you, but I'm sure he's sore," Fredericks said. "He had to pitch on three days' rest during the tournament, through five innings...And I'd betcha if we're in the state championship and we need another inning or two, he'd come on too. So, Carl has been an awesome player at Lincoln-Sudbury, and he'll continue to be until the end."
After such a dramatic win less than 24 hours earlier, Franklin head coach Dave Niro's fears of a day-after letdown came true.
"It's tough to get up two days in a row," Niro said. "We're coming off a big emotional win yesterday. I could tell on the bus ride up that we're gonna come out flat. The guys usually have a lot of energy coming to games, they're usually pretty loose. But today [it] was real quiet on the bus ride up, and I kinda thought we didn't have much energy left."
Surely, the Panthers were without key arms used in yesterday's win, leaving junior lefty Tyler Buck with the start after throwing 166 pitches in his start in last week's D1 South quarterfinals against BC High, a 17-6 win. Buck was knocked out of the game with one out in the third, with the score already well in hand at 8-0.
"I don't know if they [the team] knew that, but I knew that," Fredericks said when asked about Buck's 166-pitch start. "And as the rain kept coming and moving games back, it worked to our disadvantage, because it gives him more rest.
"But I talked to BC High, who played them, and got a pretty good scouting report on what he had, and what to do against him. Our kids executed, and did a great job."