TAUNTON, Mass. – It didn’t take long for those in attendance at Taunton High School to realize runs would be hard to come by in Saturday’s matinee game between the host Tigers and the visiting Mansfield Hornets.
So it wasn’t a huge surprise when the teams headed into extra innings knotted at 1-1.
Mansfield finally broke the stalemate in the top of the 10th inning, getting a pair of runs against the Tiger’s bullpen to emerge with a 3-1 victory in a division clash.
Moran pitched all 10 innings, allowing just three hits, one walk, one hit batter, and struck out eight to earn the win. Lawrence was not involved in the decision, tossing nine innings with seven strikeouts, three hits, and two walks. Both starters allowed an unearned run.
“Kyle Moran was how we found a way to win that one,” said Mansfield skipper Joe Breen. “Obviously he pitched the whole game, he’s been a senior leader for us, he’s battled against some really good teams, including [Taunton]. We knew it was going to be a close, long game…I think Taunton only plays extra-inning games.
“We talked to Kyle about attacking hitters and keeping his pitch count down, which hasn’t been a strong suit of his but it definitely was today. He attacked guys and that allowed him to go the whole distance.”
After two scoreless extra innings pitched by Lawrence, the Tigers turned to the bullpen. Mansfield senior Mike Hargadon got things going with a hard ground ball through the left side for a one-out single. Senior Aidan Angland sliced a blooper that fell just fair down the right field line to put runners on the corners.
Breen elected to put the pressure on the defense with a suicide squeeze and Nick Dumouchel put the ball down perfectly. Taunton pitcher Justin Rollo tried to make a play at home but the throw was high and the Hargadon came in and both base runners moved up.
“Pushing one across with the safety squeeze, we had the perfect personnel out there at the time for that play,” Breen said. “We had Hargadon at third, and he’s a great baserunner…and Nick Dumouchel is a smart hitter and smart baseball player. It was the two perfect guys for that situation to put a little pressure on the defense and they executed.
“We’ve talked a lot in the last two weeks about mental toughness and how to be strong in tight games. We’re getting better with it but with a game like this, you have to be mentally engaged at all times because one play slip of focus can cost you the game. We have a lot of seniors on the field that have been here before and are battle tested and they are showing it.”
After an intentional walk, Taunton turned to sophomore Danny MacDougall on the mound. After hitting Sam Nugent to bring in one run, MacDougall got a strikeout and a fly ball to limit the bases loaded situation to just one run.
Moran closed the door with a 1-2-3 inning, the sixth time he retired the side in order in the game, to pick up the win.
“Logan pitched a great game, [Moran] pitched a great game too,” said Taunton coach Blair Bourque. “They gave us [a run] and we gave them one right back, and I think it was a matter of who was going to be able to execute at the end and they were able to do a better job than we were. We just have to make sure we continue to practice hard now and hopefully, the adversity we’re facing now will help us in the long run.”
Taunton took the lead without getting a hit in the fifth inning. Junior Jared Roderick was hit by a pitch and used head’s up base running to sprint all the way to third on a sac bunt down the third base line from Joe Crawford. Moran got a strikeout for the second out but Roderick came home a couple of pitches later on a passed ball.
Mansfield tied the game in the next half inning, also pushing a run across without a hit. Dumouchel reached on an error and took second on the same throwing error. Pinch runner Michael DeBolt took third on a wild pitch and came home on a sacrifice fly from Nugent to make it 1-1.
Lawrence had a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning but the Tigers didn’t get another hit until the seventh inning. Moran got a fly ball to center in the first for the third out to erase that threat. Roderick had the second hit of the game with a one-out infield hit but Moran induced a line drive to left and got a strikeout looking for the third out.
Lawrence had his second hit of the day, a one-out bloop single to right but Morgan got back-to-back grounders with second baseman Connor Smith (four assists) and Hargadon (one put out, three assists), the shortstop, making the plays. Mansfield did not commit an error in the game while the Tigers had three.
“Going into today, we knew it’d be a close one…with all of our pieces back, we had what we felt was our best defensive line up out there and then we were able to bring some bats off the bench to do some things,” Breen said. “The guys up the middle, Hargadon and Smith, are stellar and Dumouchel is one of the best high school defensive first basemen I’ve ever coached. Just having those guys in the infield gives a pitcher confidence to go out there and throw strikes and not feel like they have to strike everyone out.”
Mansfield’s Eric Longley had a two-out single in the second but was erased trying to steal second on a nice throw from Taunton catcher Andrew Gomes. Dumouchel had a two-out single in the third but Lawrence induced a fly ball to center, and after John Carney walked with two outs in the fourth, the Taunton junior got an infield grounder to get out of the inning.
The Hornets threatened when Hargadon walked in the fifth but MacDougall turned a double play to cancel that threat.
“We’ve faced some adversity so far this year,” Bourque said. “I wouldn’t say we’re comfortable playing in this type of game but we’re used to it. Any mishandle, any errors can cost you the game. We’re battle-tested, it’s just a matter of putting some hits together and helping our pitchers a little bit.”
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