NORWOOD, Mass. – Norwood senior left handed pitcher and Bay State Conference Herget Division MVP Sean Mellen was at the top of his game on Thursday afternoon as the fifth seeded Mustangs hosted #12 Attleboro.
But Attleboro senior righty Nate Tellier was better.
Tellier out-dueled the Northeastern-commit, tossing a complete game shutout and scored the game’s only run in the top of the ninth inning as the Bombardiers scored a 1-0 upset win over Norwood in nine innings.
The Bombardiers threatened with a pair of hits in the top of the first inning, but it wasn’t until the top of the ninth when they finally got another hit. Tellier hit a one out dribbler up the third base line, forcing a high throw and allowing the senior to advance to second. He then stole third, his fourth stolen base of the game. After Will Carter was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners, sophomore Dakota Kirby made contact with the third pitch he saw.
Tellier took off from third, sprinting down the line as Mellen came off the mound and looked to field the ball. Tellier slid around the catcher, slapping his left hand down onto the plate well before a tag attempt to give the Bombardiers a 1-0 lead.
“He’s been with me for four years, I trust him,” Attleboro head coach Matt Bosh said of Tellier’s decision to race home. “I trust him with the steals, I just tell him to make a read and make a play. I trust him to do what he wants to do on the bases.”
“If it was hard contact, I wasn’t going to go, but I just read it and I hoped for the best,” Tellier said.
The senior came back out to pitch the bottom of the ninth, noting that there was no chance he was going to come out of the game at that point. Tellier recorded two straight outs — a ground out back to the mound and his 11th strikeout of the game — before allowing just the third Norwood hit of the game. The game ended with Tellier inducing a grounder to third, where Robbie Araujo for the final out.
Araujo recorded his fifth assist with the final out, with Tellier noting “I trust him with my life” to get the out.
“Mellen is one of the top pitchers in the state of Massachusetts, and he’s known as one of top pitchers,” Bosh said. “Nate Tellier isn’t known, but now, this should put him on the map. That’s two of the best pitchers in the state. It’s a shame these two teams have to play in the first round.”
Jon Dunn led of the game for Attleboro with a single up the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Tyler Stowe. Tellier singled to put runners on the corners. Dunn got caught in a run down between third and home on an infield hit and Tellier moved to third. Mellen got out of the inning with his first of 13 strikeouts.
Tellier kept Norwood hitless for the first five innings, only allowing three base runners (two walks, hit by pitch). Norwood’s first hit came with two outs in the sixth when Michael James found space through the right side. A stolen base, wild pitch and a walk put runners on the corner but once again, Tellier induced a weak grounder and Araujo charged, making a perfect throw to first to get the out.
Norwood threatened again in the bottom of the seventh behind a lead off single and a sacrifice bunt. But Tellier wasn’t bothered, getting a ground out to Araujo at third and then getting his ninth strikeout of the game to escape the inning.
“The last two days I was a little scared, going up against a Northeastern commit, that’s all I was thinking about,” Tellier admitted. “But then when I got here, I just told myself that my pitching isn’t affected by his pitching. I just treated it like a normal game and it turned out well.”
‘It turned out well’ is a vast understatement by the modest Tellier, who has allowed just three earned runs through 44 innings this season. Tellier pitched a no-hitter against North Attleboro in an eight innings on Monday. He now has 27 strikeouts in his last two starts and 24 straight scoreless innings.
“Plus he reached four times, four stolen bases, scored the winning run,” Bosh added. “The kid is just a baseball player.”
It was a little bit of revenge for the Bombardiers, who were upset two years ago as the two seed by the Mustangs,in the D1 South Semifinals in a 14 inning thriller. Tellier played in that game and Stowe pitched 11 shutout innings in the game. Other seniors were involved, watching from the dugout at Adams Field in Quincy. It was certainly on the minds of the players and coaches today.
“We talked about it and talked about seizing the opportunities when you have them,” Bosh said. “This felt good against these guys because they got us two years ago. They’re a great team. he’s a great coach. It’s just a shame we had to meet in round one.”
“We knew they won in extra innings last time, as the away team,” Tellier said. “We were the away team this time so it was our turn.”
Attleboro baseball, as a 12 seed, will now host its next game after #13 Brookline upset #4 Taunton in extra innings. The Bombardiers will host the Warriors on Monday at 4:00.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.