Boston High School: Jamie Dougherty

D2 EMass Final: Plymouth North 8, Burlington 1

June, 13, 2012
LOWELL, Mass -- LeLacheur Park was quiet. Almost too quiet. The kind of quiet that comes over a group when everyone knows a secret, but nobody wants to be the one to bring it up.

As Plymouth North and Burlington entered the seventh inning of their Division 2 semifinal game, everyone in the park knew the secret.

One look at the scoreboard was all it took to see the zero in the Burlington hit column. Was Plymouth North really going to head back to the Division 2 state championship game on the back of a no-hitter?

With a two-out single to left in the bottom of the seventh, Burlington catcher Anthony Cruz broke up Alex Rozak’s no-hit bid, but it didn’t matter. His team lost 8-1, sending North back to the title game for a chance to win their second straight, and third in five years, on Saturday.

Rozak spun a gem for North (18-7), with six strikeouts, five walks, and only one earned run over seven innings.

“He was nasty,” said North coach Dwayne Follette. “He didn’t even have the curveball going, but his fastball was very good, with movement. His splitter was nasty. He threw some splitfinger fastballs that just dropped off the table.

“It’s his 24th career win. Third in this playoffs alone. He’s been doing it his whole life for us. He’s awesome. Did I expect it? Yeah. I did. He was on three days rest too.”

He squared off against Joe Moran, who pitched 8 innings in Burlington’s (16-9) North sectional quarterfinal victory over Reading.

Moran struggled from the very beginning. He walked Cody Holmes to start the game, and then Jamie Dougherty bunted him over to second, but because of the lack of coverage on third, Holmes kept running and found himself on third with one out to start the game.

Next, he hit Connor Follette to put runners on the corners. A walk to John Myette loaded the bases, and then a Joe Kingsbury single drove in two runs to give North the early lead.

“We did a great job on that, getting the guy to third,” said Follette. “Then we left him stranded and we worked the counts. That two-out hit broke it open for us. I thought after that, we relaxed and played our game.”

North added four more in the third, which was helped when a Moran pickoff attempt at first hit off Peter Dawe’s glove and rolled down towards the fence, allowing two runs to score.

Kingsbury got his third RBI of the game in the seventh when his triple knocked in Myette for an insurance run.

One with the No-No's: This wasn’t Rozak’s first go-around with a potential no-hitter.

“I pitched a no-hitter last year to start the season,” he said. “Earlier this season, I pitched against Plymouth South and I had a no hitter into the seventh. It was the same situation as here, lost it with two outs. So it’s kind of funny for me, I’m not disappointed at all. We just won the Eastern Mass title, so it’s huge.”

Shhhh... There is a superstition and ritual in baseball when there is a no-hitter in the works: you don’t talk about the no-hitter. The coaches are not supposed to bring up the possibility, while the players are supposed to avoid the pitcher when he is on the bench, at all costs.

As the game was rolling along, did the Plymouth North players comply with that tradition?

“No, they don’t talk to me anyways,” said Rozak with a laugh after the game. “They kind of let me do my own thing. The pitcher kind of sits on the bench the whole time.”

How about the coaches?

“You know what? I was actually gonna take him out, and my coaches had to tell me (about the no-hitter),” said Follette. “That’s pretty good coaching, huh? I really didn’t know. In the fifth inning, I didn’t know. My coaches had to tell me. You know how you’re not supposed to say a no-hitter? Well they didn’t say it, they just pointed to the scoreboard and I figured it out.”

...Or was it really? There was a discrepancy over the official ruling of whether Rozak was carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning at all. It all stemmed from a play in the fourth inning.

After Rozak walked Peter Dawe to open the inning, Kyle Shields hit a chopper back up the middle that was fielded on a run by David Murphy. Because Murphy’s momentum was carrying him away from the base, he tried to get the quick force out at second by flipping it to Jamie Dougherty, but Dawe beat the throw.

Both runners were safe, and the official scoring of the play was a fielders choice. Some people agreed with the call, while others felt it should have been ruled an infield single, rendering the no-hit bit moot.

“They didn’t score it a hit, and they didn’t score it an error, but it has to be one of the two,” said interim Burlington coach Chris Nance. “It can’t be a nothing, but it was a nothing. If it was fielder’s choice, well that means that Peter Dawe, one of the not so fast runners on my team beat it out. Obviously the ball chopped up enough there to be called an infield hit.”

“Strategically, for me, I think they would’ve pulled (Rozak) after that,” he added. “Then I would’ve had three innings of facing someone else. So I don’t understand it.”

Even Rozak didn’t think he had a no-hitter going.

“I thought the play earlier, I guess that they called a fielder’s choice, I thought that was a hit,” he said. “So I thought the scoreboard was wrong the whole time.”

Recap: Plymouth North 9, No. 23 Auburn 4

May, 25, 2012
AUBURN, Mass. -- By its own admittance, Plymouth North is not a team stockpiled with bashers up and down the lineup -- and Eagles coach Dwayne Follette will be the first one to tell you that.

What Plymouth North has reverted back to is a combination of small ball, aggressive baserunning and solid defense to register wins. All were put on display tonight as the defending Division 2 state champion Eagles scored seven runs in the sixth inning to rally back for a 9-4 non-league victory over Auburn.

“All year we have had a good pitcher on the mound and we just battle,” said Follette, whose club improves to 13-6. “Today we executed small ball which was great. We’re not crushing the ball and we’re not a great hitting team. We are solid and found a way to win tonight by laying down bunts, executing a squeeze and we were very aggressive on the base paths. We're not afraid of any situation that comes our way.

"This was a big game for us and a big game for them. We like playing each other because we both are looking to judge to see where we are at. We know we are going to have to play this style of baseball in the postseason tournament to be effective.”

With the loss, the Rockets (16-4) saw their five game win streak snapped. But through five innings, they held a 4-2 lead as starting pitcher Connor Fuller was doing an admirable job keeping the Eagles offense in check.

However, with his pitch count continuing to rise (115 pitches total), the senior lefty began to lose steam in the sixth. Fuller lasted 5-1/3 innings, allowing five hits while striking out nine. The Eagles, who were having problems catching up to Fuller’s fastball early, changed their strategy later on as they tried to force Fuller into delivering more pitches to the plate and worked executed the little things that win games.

In the decisive sixth, Plymouth North opened by putting two on with one out. Jaime Delano bounced a dribbler down the third base line for a single. On the play, in his attempt to throw out Delano, Auburn third baseman Zack Tower threw wildly to first as the ball deflected off of first baseman Mykal Diaz. Pinch runner Ben Waltuch would score on the play, coming around from second base to make it a 4-3 game. Tyler Lamonda came on in relief of Fuller.

But with runners on second and third, Pat Horgan delivered a two-run single up the middle to put the Eagles in front to stay. As it turned out, Plymouth North was just getting started.

A walk to Brian Christian put two more runners on. Leadoff batter Cody Homes then dropped down a bunt for a single. Horgan, standing on second at the time, never stopped running on the play and would score the Eagles’ sixth run. Following a steal of second by Holmes and a walk to Jamie Dougherty, Plymouth North loaded the bases.

Connor Follette, who had struck out his previous three trips to the plate, was given the sign for a squeeze. The senior executed it perfectly to score another run for the Eagles. Before this inning finally came to a close, junior David Murphy singled to left plating two more and put Plymouth North ahead by five.

“We hadn’t played a team that has put the pressure on us the way they did,” Auburn coach Eric Swedberg said. “I blame myself a little bit. When you have a senior captain you let his pitch count go to 115 which is a little high. I should have put my emotions aside but I didn't. When Connor started that sixth inning I didn’t think I was going to need anyone else. He started good but I don’t know what happened thereafter.”

Eagles senior pitcher Vinny Tavernelli, albeit not overpowering, used a mix of fastballs and a looping curve to keep the Rocket hitters off-balance. Tavernelli lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits before Holmes came on to shut the door the rest of the way.

These two clubs are no strangers to one another. In 2008 and 2009 they met in the Division 2 state finals. Plymouth North captured the title in 2008 while the Rockets returned the favor the following year. Since then, both teams have scheduled a regular season meeting each year and that trend is expected to continue come next season.

The Eagles jumped on Fuller for a pair of runs in the opening frame. Murphy (2 hits, 3 RBI) singled in the team's first run. Moments later, with Dougherty, who had walked, on third and Murphy on first, Follette called for a double steal which worked to perfection as Dougherty slid home to make it 2-0.

But in the bottom of the inning, Auburn answered back. Tyler Desjardins reached on a Tavernelli throwing error on a comebacker and Mike Vaitkunas singled. That set the stage for Diaz, who blasted a curve deep over the left field fence for a three-run homer putting the Rockets in front 3-2. Auburn added a solo run in the fifth on a RBI single by Tower. But the two run cushion the Rockets enjoyed would be brief as the Eagle offense exploded one inning later.

“We came out on top with a good comeback victory,” Murphy said. “We played well all-around. We came off the bus fired up to play this team because we knew how good they were. Vinny did a nice job and pitched great for us. Even when we were down we still felt comfortable and started to get the pitches we wanted to see. We were able to take advantage of what they gave us to earn this win.”

P-North takes second state title in four seasons

June, 19, 2011

LYNN, Mass -- In a year where the Dallas Mavericks, UConn Huskies, and Boston Bruins have all won championships, the Plymouth North Blue Eagles discontinued the underdog trend in a solid 3-1 victory over the Hudson Hawks.

When Hudson’s Ryan Bowen hit Plymouth North’s Zach Zaniboni on the very first pitch of the game, it became very apparent where this game was going.

“We had to jump on them early and be aggressive. That was our approach to this game,” said second basemen Jamie Dougherty. “But if we laid around and kept them in it, things wouldn’t have gone good.”

And to say Dougherty was aggressive would be an incredible understatement. After a pitch had hit his teammate, Dougherty took a sacrifice bunt, which helped Plymouth North score their first run of the game. He also made an incredible diving catch at the bottom of the sixth inning that shut Hudson’s hopes of winning the game down. All of this was done with an injured elbow after being hit by a pitch in the previous game.

“[My elbow] did hurt but I was trying not to worry about it,” said Jamie Dougherty. “My good friend [Matt] Walsh kept telling me to take it one out at a time.”

“He shouldn’t even have played,” said coach Dwayne Follette. “He’s got a nasty elbow. He shows the character of this program and this team. You wouldn’t even believe it if you had looked at his elbow.”

Plymouth North’s other two runs came in the third and fourth inning. Dougherty scored a run on a bocked pitch in the third and pinch-runner Tom Faucett scored on a Doug Maccaferri single in the fourth. Alex Rozak pitched an incredible game, letting up only three hits in six innings. But he wasn’t quick to accept praise after the game. Instead, he gave credit to the relentless Plymouth North fans.

Said Rozak, “We have the best fans in the state. They are always here supporting us. It’s always a big boost when you have people behind you.”

From chants to body paint, the Plymouth North fans were simply a reflection of how the Blue Eagles’ program operates. Heart, grit, and toughness is what they are all about. When things were not looking good, there was always someone there to step up, whether it was Cody Holmes cleaning up for Rozak or Dougherty’s heroic catch to help close out the game. Their numbers also speak for themselves.

“We have two [state championships] in the last four years. We got 13 seniors going on to college, six to play baseball, and one in the armed services. These guys are unbelievable.”