Unfortunately for Hornets, that inning was the top of the sixth against 13th-seeded Wellesley, as the Raiders scored all three of their runs and recorded a 3-2 decision over fourth-seeded Mansfield.
Wellesley had just two hits through the first five innings of play but plated three runs on their third hit of the game in the top of the sixth.
With Mansfield holding a 1-0 lead, Wellesley junior John Ciolfi led off with a walk and moved to second when Brendan Dolan reached after his sacrifice bunt was mishandled for an error. Sophomore Henry Weycker (Wellesley’s pitcher) launched a two-run double into right center field to put the Raiders ahead.
A ground out move Weycker to third and before Mansfield senior Nolan Dousa could deliver his next pitch on a 1-2 count, the infield umpire saw something no one else in the park did — a balk. That brought Wellesley’s third run in.
“All season long, our worst games, they have stemmed from one inning,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “Whether its the first inning, or giving up a couple late or just one single play. When you get to this level of baseball and playing teams like Wellesley, you don’t have room for many errors. We made a couple of errors, made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of them. That was the difference in the ball game.
“That’s the difficult part of having a one-loss elimination style forms, you have to be at your best every single pitch, every single inning. And if you’re not, you don’t make it too far.”
Both teams put a pair of runners on in the first inning, but neither side could push across a run. Ciofli led off with a walk and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. Freshman Max Zajec drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and second but Dousa (CG, four hits, three talks, three strikeouts) got a fly ball to right field.
In the bottom half, senior Max Boen led off with a walk and classmate Matt Farragher (two hits) followed with an infield single. But Wellesley quickly picked up two outs with a pick off at second and then catching Farragher at second with a pick off move.
Dousa recorded a pair of strikeouts in the second in a 1-2-3 inning. Colin Gibbons led off with a single, moved to second on a sac bunt from Zack Peterson and took third on a groundout. However, Weycker induced a ground ball to shortstop Isaac Weycker and his throw just beat the runner at first.
“Dousa is the biggest gamer that I’ve ever coached,” Breen said. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to coach him and I’m glad that a lot of the younger pitchers in the program got to watch him come back this year from a pretty bad injury and work through all of it and come out and compete. Our team is very different with Nolan Dousa on the mound and our guys want to win almost a little bit more than normal when he’s out there because of how much effort he’s put in.
After another 1-2-3 inning from Dousa, the Hornets broke through for the first run of the game in the bottom of the third. Anthony DeGirolamo ripped a one-out line drive double and moved to third on a ground out. DeGirolamo then came home to score on a wild pitch, giving Mansfield a 1-0 lead.
Mansfield put another runner in scoring position in the bottom of the fifth inning as DeGirolamo walked and stole second, but Wellesley picked up the third out via a grounder to second.
After the Raiders took the lead in the top of the sixth, the Hornets were able to get one run back in the bottom of the inning. Gibbons reached on an error and pinch runner Connor Driscoll took third after an errant pickoff attempt. Peterson delivered with a hit up the middle to make it 3-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kevin Dow reached with one out on an error but Weycker got a strikeout looking and induced another grounder to second for the final out.
“It’s been a great senior group,” Breen said. “They’ve all played different roles and they all played them very, very well. This was a group that had a handful of guys that were around for our tournament run a couple years ago and saw what it was like to win. Last year, when they took on bigger roles for the first time, they were one game away from the tournament and they came back this year with a great senior year.”
Mansfield baseball finishes the season 14-8.