But it was fresh in the minds of many Mansfield players as they returned to North Easton in the Hornets first matchup with the Tigers this season. And this time, they made sure to finish the game off.
Mansfield took the lead with a four run fifth inning, Oliver Ames cut the deficit to one in the sixth but the Hornets tacked on two more in the seventh to pick up a key 6-3 division win over OA.
“OA plays hard and you knew they weren’t going away,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “We brought it late in the game and talked about how OA would keep fighting to the end so we need to get at least one more to get some breathing room. The guys responded and had a nice inning there to cap it off.
“[OA] is certainly a very strong team, there’s really not a whole lot of weaknesses on that team. We knew we’d have our hands full with OA, especially with the way they’ve played this season. Coach Abarr has done a great job with those guys, they obviously play very hard for him. But our guys played hard today too. I think we had last year’s late inning loss in the back of our minds, a lot of our returners remembered and had a little extra incentive to get a win today.”
Both teams put a runner in scoring position in the first inning, with Mansfield’s Matt Farragher (fielder’s choice, stolen base) getting to second and Oliver Ames’ Matt Muir (double, stolen base) reaching third but neither crossed the plate.
Mansfield threatened in the third when Dow walked, stole second, advanced to third on a single from Anthony DeGirolamo but Parker escaped, getting a fly ball to right and a line drive to short.
OA finally broke through in the third inning, with sophomore Reid Latham reaching on an error and moving to second on a base hit from Muir. Muir was forced out on a fielder’s choice but Latham moved to third but OA loaded the bases with a steal from Michael Friel and a walk to Mitch Goulet.
Senior Kyle Gagliardi delivered, driving a 1-0 pitch to the outfield for a two-run single.
Parker cruised through the top of the fourth with the help of a double play while Dow put the Tigers down in order to keep the deficit at two.
Mansfield’s offense finally came to life in the top of the fifth to take the lead. Cullin Anastasia set things up with a lead off single and Dow helped his own cause with a deep double. The throw home was high, allowing Anastasia to cross and Dow to take third, cutting OA’s lead to 2-1. DeGirolamo drew a walk and stole second with one out. With a 3-1 count, OA elected to intentionally walk Farragher to load the bases.
Mansfield senior Aidan Cahill came through, taking a 1-0 pitch for a ride with a line drive for a two RBI single that pushed Farragher to third. The Hornets weren’t done in the inning as sophomore Kyle Moran singled off OA reliever Jay Fruci to bring Farragher home for a 4-2 lead.
“He’s come up big for us all year,” Breen said of Cahill. “He started off in the two-hole because he’s a very good situational hitter and can go gap to gap. We moved him back to the three hole because he couldn’t stop hitting. He had a huge two-run homer to win a game against Feehan, he’s been on fire this season. He’s a super hard working kid and I love seeing guys work as hard as he does reap the benefits of it.”
Oliver Ames’ offense had its response in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sophomore Chris Pearsons was hit by a pitch by Mansfield reliever Kyle Moran to start the bottom half and advanced to second on a dropped third strike. Pearsons took third on a fielder’s choice and then scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-3.
Farragher was hit by a pitch to lead off the top of the seventh to get Mansfield’s offense in gear. He went to second on a passed ball and Cahill came through one again with an RBI double. Pearsons got two outs in relief for OA but Cahill took third on a wild pitch. Colin Gibbons looped a hit into shallow center field to bring Gibbons home.
“We’ve been preaching to our guys to be aggressive as much as possible and get up there and swing the bat and try to drive the ball as much as possible,” Breen said. “I think early on we were probably too aggressive swinging at balls outside the zone but we made a little bit of an adjustment and started to swing at better pitches. Our guys, one though nine, anyone can do the job right now and that’s kind of where things turned around for us offensively.”
Moran closed the game with a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save. Dow earned the win in 4.1 innings of work, allowing four hits with one strikeout. The Hornets lost their #2 pitcher Tyler Dalton for the season, so Breen was looking for someone to step up.
“We knew we needed guys to step up,” Breen said. “Both Kevin and Kyle have pitched well in relief for us. We knew going into today it would be a combo effort and I think they split the game pretty well and got their jobs done. Kevin set the table for us and Kyle got some big pressure outs in the late innings.”
Oliver Ames (6-4, 5-3) will host Foxboro on Monday.
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