MacDougall Produces MVP Moment in State Title Game

Ryan MacDougall
The Taunton bench joins Ryan MacDougall (34) at the plate after his sixth inning homer put the Tigers in front for good against Franklin in the D1 state title game. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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LOWELL, Mass. – In 2019, Taunton made a run to the Div. 1 state title. On the bench, called up to the postseason roster but limited to doing the book, was an eighth grader already being touted as a potential star. On Saturday night at LeLacheur Park, Ryan MacDougall, now a junior first baseman and recently voted Hockomock League MVP, was able to experience it is like to get on the field in a state championship.

Four years ago, he was all potential. On Saturday, against league rival Franklin, MacDougall was the hero.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Facing an 0-2 count with one out in the top of the sixth of a tie game, MacDougall got a fastball from Franklin ace Jacob Jette (who had allowed only two hits to that point) and he turned on it, lifting a deep drive to right that landed just above the yellow line denoting a home run.

MacDougall paused at second looking for the signal that the ball was gone and when he got confirmation from the umpire on that side of the field he raised his arms and set off for home plate to be mobbed by his teammates. It turned out to be the winning run in a 2-1 victory for the Tigers, who earned their second state title in three seasons.

“It just means everything,” MacDougall said about winning it all. “Eighth grade didn’t mean as much because I didn’t get to play. Obviously it still meant a ton but this year has just felt a little bit different than last time. I love this team.

It was a moment that came as no surprise to Taunton coach Blair Bourque, who has seen MacDougall come through time and again this spring.

“Ryan puts a lot of pressure on himself,” he explained. “We as a team, we tend to get on his back and he’s a big boy so he can carry us and he was able to get ahold of one today. We knew with Evan (Cali) pitching we needed to put some good at bats together and fortunately for us Ryan was in the right place at the right time.”

He has been in the right place a lot this season. MacDougall was tied for the league lead with two homers this season, was second in average (behind only teammate Braden Sullivan) at 0.476, tops in hits with 30, and finished with 19 RBI. He was also tied for the league lead with seven wins as a pitcher, recording an ERA of 1.47 and striking out 45 batters in 47-2/3 innings.

MacDougall recorded the first hit for the Tigers in the final, leading off the fourth inning with a single. Jette had been dominant for most of the game but Taunton was able to strike for a run in the fifth that tied it, setting up MacDougall’s heroics an inning later.

“He’s got a little bit of that clutch gene,” said Franklin coach Zach Brown. “It was one of those balls you wish you could have back, but there’s another guy on the other side. Jacob is a tremendous competitor and did a great job but Ryan MacDougall is good too and he put a charge into that and it had just enough to get out of here.”

When asked about the game-winning swing, MacDougall responded, “Down 0-2, just trying not to get out at that point, saw a fastball, took a good swing on it and put it over the fence. I got a good piece of it.”

It was a moment that meant a little more because of the opponent. Taunton and Franklin split during the regular season and have been battling each other for the league title for several seasons.

“When we play each other, we just come with unmatched energy, so it just feels great to win,” MacDougall said. “It just felt great to hit the home run. I’m a little speechless right now. It was just unreal.”

In 2019, MacDougall’s older brother Danny (who won MVP last year) was the team’s starting shortstop going into the playoffs, but a hand injury in the opening game of the playoffs effectively ended his season. Danny wasn’t able to be on the field in the state championship game. Four years later, Ryan put his stamp on the final.

He found it hard to put the experience into perspective. “I’m speechless,” he said with a smile. “It’s unreal.”

“Can’t say enough about him,” Bourque said about MacDougall and what he means to the team. “He’s a hard worker, he’s a great kid, and I’m really happy for him. He’s got a lot of talent, he’s got a bright future ahead of him, and I’m really happy we have another year with him.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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