Boston High School: Kevin Baker

D1 West Final: Westfield 2, Minnechaug 1

June, 9, 2012
CHICOPEE, Mass. -- Above all else, resiliency is what matters most. Forget the plus-fastball, 12-6 deuce or the ability to pull the string when changing speeds.

Sure, it can't hurt a pitcher to carry those attributes in his toolbox, but, above all else, resiliency is the key.

Westfield's Lee Albertson proved that much time and again Saturday in the Bombers' 2-1 Western Mass. Division 1 Final win over Minnechaug at Szot Park.

Albertson and his calm demeanor sliced and diced the No. 2 Falcons throughout a complete-game, two-hit, 13-strikeout performance. But it wasn't as easy as the box score might indicate.

Albertson battled out of four separate jams with Minnechaug runners in scoring position to limit the defending sectional champions to just one fifth-inning run.

"He made a point at practice to let me know he was ready for today," said Westfield head coach Rich Discenza, whose Bombers improved to 19-4 on the season and await the Central Mass. champion for Tuesday's Division I State Semifinal (7 p.m. Szot Park).

Albertson's escapability showed best in the fifth inning, incidentally, when Minnechaug was able to puncture his armor.

After Westfield went ahead 2-0, Minnechaug followed in their half of the fifth with a very similar stanza. Albertson retired the leadoff hitter, but hit Joe Snopek to put a runner on. After another strikeout, the wheels came off the track for the typically-grounded Albertson. He walked two batters and saw Kevin Baker's seeing-eye single plate Minnechaug's first run. He would get out of the jam quickly, though, avoid further damage.

The scoring action started in the top of the fifth with Westfield's Aris Laurencuent getting hit by a Bryan Goossens fastball. That would be the start of the Bombers' rally.

Ethan Atkocaitis followed with a sharp single to right field. Kyle Murphy then laced a liner to deep centerfield that was caught but deep enough to plate Jake Toomey --- who was pinch-running for Aris Laurencuent. Atkocaitis then scored on a passed ball.

The Little Things: A look at the Westfield roster won't raise any major eyebrows. There are good players and solid statistics but there aren't any 'superstars'.

None of that matters, though, to the 2012 Western Mass. Champions.

"It's a team-oriented thing," said catcher Evan Moorhouse. "We all know what we have to do. "We're going to go out there and play for each other and that's a huge thing."

Westfield's own "Bomber Ball" was on display in their two-run fifth inning. There was only one hit in the inning --- a Conner Laraway single --- yet Westfield was able to plate just enough offense.

With the bases loaded, Murphy saw the situation and acted accordingly with one out, getting the ball to the outfield to plate Jake Toomey from third with a sacrifice fly. And the Bombers capitalized on a mental error by Minnechaug pitcher Bryan Goossens to score their second run.

Tough Luck Loser: As memorable as Albertson's performance was, Minnechaug's Goossens matched him throughout.

The Siena-bound senior scattered just five hits and allowed just the one earned run. Like his counterpart, Goossens also managed to battle through numerous tough jams to keep it tight.

He was at his best in the top of the seventh inning. After allowing back-to-back hits to start the inning, he settled down and retired Westfield's top three batters in order to give Minnechaug one last chance at the plate.

L-S captures third state title in seven seasons

June, 18, 2011

LYNN, Mass. -- Keith Anderson is a big boy at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, but today he was Orca big for his team.

He opened up the offense for the Lincoln-Sudbury Warriors with a drop-in to center field to spark a seven-run second inning. On the flip side, he made a potentially game-altering snag with the bases loaded to end the fourth inning, leading L-S (24-4) to its third state championship in seven years with a 10-2 win over Minnechaug.

“I was just trying to the offense going,” Anderson said of his shallow center chip that turned into more than he had imagined. “I was just thinking that it was going to drop in front of him, but as I got to first, I saw that it was past him so I just took second base.”

Anderson did not consider the ball being caught, although he admitted that upon reflection had the ball been dove for, the game could have had a different outcome, but the ball fell in, he took and extra base and the rest is history.

“No one has hit the ball better than Keith in this tournament,” said Lincoln-Sudbury head coach Kirk Fredericks. “Earlier in the tournament, he scooped a ball that saved us a couple of runs. He has turned himself into a really good player.”

Juniors Ricky Antonellis and Ryan Bassinger smacked grounders into left field, respectively, after Anderson got the team going, the second knocking in Anderson. The next batter, junior Matt Cahill, executed a bunt down the third baseline that kept the inning going for the Warriors, a part of their game that was not so heralded early in the year, but something that Fredericks has had the team work on during the season just for situations like this.

“Kids don’t practice bunting in the offseason, so we worked on it during the season,” said Fredericks. “Knowing that the last two years when we lost in the north semifinals, we lost because we couldn’t hit, so if you can’t hit you’ve got to get on base somehow and bunting is one of the options.”

With the bases now loaded, sophomore Brian Carroll smacked a shot to the third baseman, who dove to make the catch, but unfortunately made one of the Falcons’ three errors in the second inning, overthrowing the second baseman after, and allowing L-S to tally another five runs.


Scoreless in the second, the Falcons (15-11) capitalized on opportunities given them as L-S senior righthander Adam Ravenelle walked four straight batters. He gathered himself and struck out clean-up hitter Matthew Warren, then gave up a right field pop fly to Kevin Sugermeyer that yielded the second and last run of the game for the Falcons.

Kevin Baker fanned for the second time to end the inning, but after Kevin White drove one into dead center in the top of the fourth, Fredericks pulled the plug on Ravenelle on brought in Matt McGavick who allowed two hits during his four innings on the mound.

“I knew I had my team behind me and they have been all year,” said Ravenelle. “I have the utmost faith that they’ll pick it up when I’m not at my best.”

Like Ravanelle, McGavick walked the bases loaded, and was unsure how things would turn out, as he usually comes into the game during either the seventh or eighth inning, but the fielding of Keith Anderson was all that he needed, as he snatched a line drive that would have rolled into shallow right, potentially scoring two runs. A five-run lead is much easier to pitch with than a three-run lead and McGavick was appreciative of the defensive support he received from Anderson and the rest of the Warriors.

“That catch by Keith Anderson the first inning I was in really got me going and gave me confidence to keep throwing the ball in there, pitching strikes knowing that my defense would be there to back me up,” said McGavick.


Although it was a long ride from Main Street in Wilbraham, Minnechaug coach Erik Mandell did not recognize the play that he saw in the field from his team and did not yank his pitcher, or scream at his players, but let them know that he expected to see them making the little plays that made the big differences in the game, such as the one Anderson made two innings later to potentially save the game.

“Baseball is a game of inches,” said Mandell. “And to get here, we’ve had to make a number of plays like that one on first base just to get here. A few inches to the left, a few inches to the right, it may be a different ball game… but I told my guys they needed to make those plays.”

Despite giving up 10 runs, Mandell stuck through the eighth inning with his starting pitcher, Gregory Heineman, because he felt he was pitching a good game.

“We needed to be better on defense, we had one particularly bad inning, and overall we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be, but I don’t think that Greg pitched poorly. On top of that, they’re a good ball club.”