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.
SOLID SECOND OPTION
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.
THIS IS NOT HOW WE GOT HERE…
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.”