LOWELL, Mass. -- Lynnfield’s Chris Lang was hanging tight in the batters box with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
His team had the bases loaded with two outs against North Reading’s Riley Warnock. He had already survived a six-pitch at bat to keep his team’s season alive.
With the game in the balance still, Warnock threw a pitch on the low-and-inside corner. The umpire put up his hand, ruling then that Lang was out.
In that moment, Lynnfield’s season was over, and North Reading is the Division 3 North champions with its 3-2 victory.
“It was a very, very, very exciting high school game,” said North Reading coach Frank Carey. “To Lynnfield’s credit, every time they fouled a ball off, I said that’s typical Lynnfield. Those guys don’t give up, they just don’t quit, they don’t die. They’ve won games all year long in the bottom of an inning, or the last at-bat. It’s characteristic of them. They had a great season, and it took a great effort on our part to beat that team.”
“We don’t out-hit anybody, but we got some hits today.”
Lynnfield (20-4) struck first when a walk and back-to-back singles plated Carmine DeCesare.
North Reading (20-4) scored a run each of the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings when it needed it the most off Lynnfield’s pitcher Chris Dehueile.
Even after No. Reading was getting to Dehueile, Lynnfield coach John O’Brien stuck with his senior in the eighth.
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases, which brought up the No. Reading pitcher Ryan McAuliffe. Dehueile hit him with a pitch, thus walking in the eventual winning run.
“We’ve had good defense and good pitching and timely hitting all year,” said O’Brien. “We just tried to stay one pitch at a time, which has been our philosophy. It’s worked all year. Today was the same. We were right there with them and had a couple of chances to break the game open and we did not.
“I would expect nothing less. We play them twice a year and we go to war every time we play them. It’s a one-run game every time, and today was the same again. I give them credit, they stuck with it. They got one more run than us, one more big hit than us. It says a lot about them, but it says a lot about my kids that they keep coming back and they keep playing with poise and they play with class. That’s what I expect from them and they’ve delivered all year.”
North Reading moves on to the state semifinals to play the winner of tomorrow' South Final between East Bridgewater and Apponequet, to decide who will move onto the state finals.
No Love Loss: Saturday was the third meeting of the year for these Cape Ann League rivals. North Reading won the season series 2-1.
“Oh my God,” exclaimed McAuliffe. “When I found out they won a couple days ago, I was more than pumped. Everyone on my team just couldn’t wait to play. We knew it was going to be a great game. I mean, it was 3-2.”
It was another chapter in the rivalry that will surely play on in the future.
“The first game this year was a great game, we won 1-0, and both pitchers pitched very well,” he added. “Second game, we had already won the CAL title, but they won so they shared it with us. So we came out here pretty made, just played baseball, and we won.”
Roster Rule Explanation: There was about a 20-minute delay in the top of the seventh as the two teams tried to figure out if a player was eligible.
After North Reading’s Eric Gordon singled to to start the inning, Carey wanted to pinch hit Shane Driscoll for Michael Brandano. The only problem was Driscoll’s number was not on the roster.
On the roster that was submitted to the officials, Driscoll was listed as No. 9, not the No. 24 he was wearing. O’Brien brought the issue to the umpire’s attention, who wanted Driscoll called out due to an illegal substitution.
There was much discussion back and forth between the umpires, league officials, and the coaches, but it was eventually determined that Driscoll could pinch hit, as long as he changed his jersey to the No. 9 that was listed on the officially submitted roster.
Driscoll laid down a successful sacrifice bunt, putting pinch runner Jonathan Gravallese on second for the eventual go-ahead run.
“I don’t want to blame administration,” said Carey. “The kid was on our roster, but he had a different number. We had two No. 9’s on the roster. I saw the roster before the game and said, ‘This thing is totally inaccurate,’ so I made some changes. I tried to get as many of the correct numbers down, and Shane, who is on the roster as a player as No. 9, when he went up, wore No. 24. They claimed that was an illegal player, plus they were alleging that he didn’t report in.
“The rules say you don’t have to report, it’s a courtesy. There’s no rule against not reporting in. So I tried to clear that up, and then there was a controversy about the number. They were trying to say he wasn’t on the roster. I said he’s on the roster, Shane is on the roster. But it got rectified.
“I thought it was a mute, small point. It would’ve been a shame if because of an administrative error on our roster, that we would’ve had to take the littlest guy on the whole field and take him out of the batters box and claim that he’s an illegal player.”