LOWELL, Mass. -- With a three-run lead and a hungry Danvers team coming up in the bottom of the seventh, Masco coach T.J. Baril had few words to motivate his team. He hasn’t needed them too often this year.
“I’ll be 100 percent honest. I went into the huddle and said ‘you guys talk about it’, Baril said. “It was all them, it had nothing to do with [the coaches], it was all them the whole time.”
Cape Ann League MVP Speros Varinos came in and picked up the save in the seventh, lifting Masco (19-5) to a Division 2 North championship, 5-2 over Danvers (21-4).
The Chieftains’ starting pitcher, Joe Klingensmith, gave up two runs in six innings pitched, and also got on base three times and tied the game at two in the sixth inning. He discussed the environment in the huddle in the middle of the seventh inning, mentioning that his team knew what needed to be done without saying a word:
“We’ve got a lot of leadership on this team, even though we only have four seniors," Klingensmith said. "We know what to do, we’ve been playing really well all year, and we pulled it together -- we’ve won 13 straight now. Nobody’s too vocal about anything, we have faith in all our guys, we have a very close knit team and we have great team chemistry."
Danvers took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning on runs by Tyler Dustin and Joseph Olszak. Klingensmith had a hit in the next inning to score Varinos and cut the lead in half. Baril said the early deficit never got his team down.
“Nothing surprises us at this point...these guys stayed with it," he said. "A lot of teams would freak out down two runs. We’ve got tons of faith in these guys, they’re not gonna’ quit, they’re not gonna’ give up. [After] 24 games you can’t just sit and wait for something to happen, these guys did it. ”
Klingensmith admitted he wasn’t at full strength, but despite some late-season arm pain as a result of his start on Tuesday.
“I wasn’t feeling 100 percent coming in...I felt pretty good the first few innings, then I really felt significantly weaker," he said. "I knew I had to gut it out but I knew I had a good D behind me. Tuesday I had like 11 K’s and today I only had a handful.
"That says how confident I am in this defense, they’re great, they do everything for me. That gives me so much confidence when I’m out there."
Elaborating further on Klingensmith's toughness, Baril praised his starting pitcher after the game.
“Joe’s tough, we’re not gonna shut out every team in this tournament, and he knew that if we got him a couple runs he’d be fine," Baril said. "We went out there and battled on a hot day.”
Masco struggled early in the game with Danvers starter Rafael Tylus, but stayed patient and picked up some insurance in the seventh inning thanks to a string of hits at the top of the lineup by the Verinos brothers and Greg Dougherty. After Klingensmith was intentionally walked, Tom Budrewicz hit a two-run single to extend the lead to 5-2.
“He’s not your normal five hitter,” Klingensmith said of Budrewicz. “He could hit leadoff, second, third on any team in this league. I really like him hitting behind me.”
In the first year at Masco for him and his staff, Baril said he had high expectations for his team coming into this year. Advancing to the Eastern Mass. championship game was just one of a few goals.
“First year here as a coaching staff. It’s these guys first time being here, and they deserve it, they’ve worked their butts off for quite some time," he said. "You come into every season thinking you’re gonna win as many games as possible. We thought about it, it was our goal. We’re really happy that we accomplished one of our goals.”