Boston High School: Luke Morse

D1 Baseball: Lowell 1, Westford 0

June, 3, 2012
LOWELL, Mass. -- As a blanket of dreary clouds rolled in overhead, Lowell’s Matt Tulley toed the rubber and stared in at Westford’s Luke Morse, Sunday’s opposing pitcher.

A hit batsman, throwing error, and single put Westford players on every base with only one out in the sixth inning. Neither team could get on the board up until that inning. A pop fly, at the very least, a ground ball to either the second baseman or shortstop would plate a Westford run.

With the count 1-2, Morse swung and hit a soft ground ball back to Tulley. He flipped it to his catcher, Mike Hart, for the force out to keep the score tied at zero. After working the count full against Danny Cerullo, he threw a fastball down the middle that Cerullo took and started jogging down to first base. Except it was strike three. The inning was over, the crisis was averted.

It was that kind of a game for Westford: the Grey Ghosts got runners in scoring position, but could never get any to cross the plate. It took a 129-pitch effort from Tulley, but Lowell hung on for the 1-0 victory to move on to the Division 1 North Quarterfinals.

“I don’t let anything bother me,” said Tulley. “No matter what the situation is, I don’t let it bother me, no matter what it is.”

The only run for Lowell (18-4) came in the seventh inning. After Morse walked Andrew Marasa and Joe Parisi to start the inning, he was relieve in favor of John Troy.

Marasa got picked off second base after Matt Sullivan, the catcher for Westford (11-10), threw down to second after noticing Marasa took too big a lead off the bag. He then got RJ Gray to fly out to center for the second out of the inning.

Roger Roman came up next and sent a ball into centerfield a single. The ball got by Mike Bibinski and kept rolling towards the warning track. This allowed Parisi to score all the way from first and Roman to roll into third.

It was a tough game for Bibinski, who went 1-for-5 at the plate with four strikeouts to go along with the fielding error.

Tulley had nine strikeouts heading into the final frame, and added another before being relieved by R.J. Noel.

If it was up to the senior righthander, he would have stayed in the game. However, the team knew Noel was more than capable of getting the final two outs in the game.

“I definitely wanted to throw the complete game, but it was a certain situation where R.J. is quick to the plate, and I was getting up there in pitches, so it was smart decision,” he said.

Rainy Day Fund: Due to inclement weather over the weekend, many of the remaining playoff teams have to play again on Monday, a back-to-back scenario rarely seen in high school baseball.

While having an extra day of rest would be preferred, Lowell coach Dan Graham doesn’t think the immediate turnaround will be a detrimental to his team.

“It’s not a bad thing,” he said. “I’m sure some of these kids are anxious. I’m sure they’d like to get some more at-bats right now. I think it will be a good thing for us to get right back out here tomorrow and play.”

Lowell plays against Malden Catholic on Monday at 4 p.m.

Morse leaves it all on the field: Morse deserved the standing ovation the fans gave him when he came out of the game in the sixth inning. He did everything he could to keep his team in the game against a powerful offensive team.

There was a stretch between the second and sixth innings when he allowed only two hits and four runners to reach base.

He ended his six-inning outing allowing four hits, three walks, one earned run, and two strikeouts. He pitched out of jams in the first and second innings where, each time, Lowell had runners on second and third with one out.

“He threw the ball well, credit him,” said Graham. “He was starting kids off offspeed, getting it for strikes and getting ahead in the count. He had enough on his fastball where, if you show them offspeed early, you can sneak fastballs by people.”

“I feel like we should’ve got out of those first couple innings with a run or two, which probably could have changed the complexion of the game. We probably would’ve settled in and been a little more comfortable at the plate. You’re not going to win many state tournament games putting up only one run. But we feel fortunate that it didn’t come back to bite us at the end of the game.”

Draft Tracking: By the time Lowell’s Division 1 North Quarterfinal matchup versus Malden Catholic is over Monday night, the Major League Baseball Player Draft will be underway.

The Red Raiders have two potential draftees in Tulley and infielder Chad Gens. Don’t look for them to be distracted from the task at hand though.

“I don’t think they’ll be distracted,” said Graham. “I don’t think they’re going to be bringing their cell phones into the dugout or anything waiting for a phone call. That’s really out of their control. They’ve played the season up until this point, so if it happens for them, great, if it doesn’t happen for them, it’s not like they’re finishing their college careers here. They’re just finishing the tail end of their high school careers. They have a lot of baseball in front of them.”

Tulley knows that even if he doesn’t get that phone call in the next few days, it won’t be the end of the line for him. The Virginia Tech commit will work to make the most of his time in the land of Division 1 college baseball.

“I’m just going to let it play out,” he said. “I hope I do (get drafted). It would be an honor. If it doesn’t happen, then I’ve got three years at Virginia Tech, and I’ll try my best to do it then.”

L-S, Westford battle in 'Coaches vs. Cancer'

May, 19, 2012
SUDBURY, Mass. -- Occasionally, the literal and figurative lines separating sports from real life disappear, as they did Friday night at Feeley Field.

While No. 5 Lincoln-Sudbury was scratching and clawing its way to a 2-1, eight-inning victory over Westford, there were symbols all around reminding everyone that what happened on the baseball diamond was not the life or death situation some make it out to be.

The Westford players sported pink undershirts they made for the "Coaches vs. Cancer" fundraiser they had weeks before. Most of the L-S players sported pink wristbands during the game. About 100 feet away from the concession stand, a woman stood at a Coaches vs. Cancer table, collecting donations and selling raffle tickets for a cause she believes in.

Before the game, L-S coach Kirk Fredericks presented Coaches vs. Cancer with a check for a $4,000, on behalf of the school.

These were all done to generate support and raise money for the American Cancer Society. It’s in times like these when one can see that games, at any level, are just that: games.

“Every year I watch the Jimmy Valvano speech (from the 1993 ESPYs) and that really touches me,” said Fredericks, one of the main organizers of the baseball team’s fundraising efforts. “As a matter of fact, I have it on tape because it kind of brings you back down to reality. When you’re going through every day life and you get up and you complain about your boss, or you complain about some kid you have in class.

"My daughter has had a rough two years in life. She doesn’t have cancer, but you go in the hospital and there are kids there that are living in the hospital. It makes you realize how lucky you are. We lost a kid from L-S a couple years ago to leukemia, who was in the baseball program. We have a kid now who is hopefully at the tail end of his battles, so things just make it mean a little more to you.

"Our seniors wanted to raise some money to put towards that cause and if we can have a part in that, then great.”

The team raised money by selling discount cards to various restaurants around the Sudbury area. During the game, raffle tickets were sold for the opportunity to win a signed photograph of Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

The total amount raised by the sales at the game and by the players in school will be added to the donation total, once it is tallied.

L-S works extra innings: On the field, it was the grind one would come to expect by two Dual County League teams.

Westford (9-9) scored its only run of the game off L-S (14-3) pitcher Sid Warrenbrand in the top of the first inning.

John Troy singled to right with one out, then stole second two batters later. He scored from second on a Riley Cox single to make it 1-0.

Troy also did well for himself on the mound also, not allowing a L-S hit until the fourth inning. He walked Matt Cahill to open the inning, then faced Michael Walsh.

Walsh hit a grounder to short, which slowed down considerably in the infield grass. By the time the shortstop could make a play on the ball, Cahill was mere feet away from second base.

Cahill slid head-first into the bag, beating the throw, making everybody safe, and giving L-S its first hit of the game.

He then moved to third, but a 6-4-3 double play gave his team two outs. He scored two pitches later on a Troy wild pitch.

L-S plated the final run of the game after Troy fell apart in the eighth inning. Michael Biggins singled to right to open the inning, then Cahill reached base safely after Troy’s throw to second pulled the shortstop off the bag, making both runners safe.

He then hit Walsh with a 3-1 pitch, which loaded the bases. Warrenbrand’s hit dropped in the outfield to send the fans home happy, and allowed him to finish the game he started.

Warrenbrand shining: Warrenbrand is only a sophomore, but did not pitch like one Friday. After he gave up the run in the first, he left 10 Westford runners on base, three of which reached third base.

His biggest scare came in the sixth inning, when he walked Riley Cox to start the inning. A William Alden single put runners on first and second with nobody out.

He came back and struck out Thomas O’Brien looking, then got Luke Morse to ground out to him, which advanced the runners, but made two outs in the inning.

Connor Murphy came up to hit, but Warrenbrand struck him out swinging, ending any hopes Westford had of scoring in the inning.

He gave up a single to start the seventh inning, but came back and forced a fly ball out and a double play to end the inning.

“He’s been struggling a little bit lately, and struggled in the early part of the game, threw a lot of pitches,” said Fredericks. “He’s been getting better as the game goes on. I think what you saw was that he’s a competitor and he’d come off the mound in each of those last three innings he pitched, and he came off like he just won the state championship. Then he goes and gets the game-winning hit. Sometimes you’re the hero, and sometime’s you’re the goat, but today he was the hero.”

Warrenbrand was relieved in the eighth by David McCullough.