With two outs, not much had changed with the Tigers still trailing 4-1 to the Mansfield Hornets. But on a 2-2 count, OA senior Josh Minuskin belted a three-run home run into left center field, tying the game and it looked like the game was destined to head to extra innings.
But a walk, a single and a hit batter later, suddenly Oliver Ames had the bases loaded and a chance to win. Freshman Chris Pearsons blooped one into left field, right in between a charging left fielder and a pair of back pedaling infielders to score the winning run and the Tigers walked off with a 5-4 win at Frothingham Park.
The rally started with a one out walk drawn by senior Matt Mancini. After a pop out for the second out, sophomore Matt Muir battled his way to a walk to put two on with two outs. Minuskin got a fast ball on a 2-2 pitch and launched it into left center. Mancini and Muir came around to score easily and after a slight bobble at the cutoff in left, Minuskin was sent home and he was able to beat the throw to tie the game.
“He’s a senior captain and that was a bomb, easily the furthest hit all day,” Oliver Ames head coach Leo Duggan said. “With the weather today, we didn’t think the ball would go that far. And then coach [Ed] Rollo sent him home because there was an issue at the cutoff so that was a great call right there.
“We’re thinking we’re going to lose 4-1 or 4-2 maybe if Josh gets a single but then he got a good pitch he could drive and that was a bomb.”
The bases didn’t stay clear for long with Ryan Adams drawing a four pitch walk. Kyle Gagliardi followed with an infield single between third and short to put two on with two out. Sophomore Mitch Goulet was hit by a pitch to load the bases for the freshman Pearson. Pearson connected on the second pitch her saw, blooping one into left as Adams scampered home, sending the Tigers into a frenzy.
“We were happy we tied it so we had [Zach] Sato, probably our best pitcher, was going to warm up for the eighth,” Duggan admitted. “Then Ryan [Adams] drew a walk, Kyle singled and Mitchell got hit. We were playing for extra innings but all of a sudden they woke up. Chris is only a freshman and he seems to be getting better everyday. That was a big situation and he came through.
“That was a great ending, I’ve seen a lot in my long time coaching. We snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.”
Mansfield took the lead in the fourth inning and added a run in each of the fifth and seventh innings. However, the feeling was one the Hornets have had before.
“I just talked to the guys about playing a complete seven innings,” Mansfield head coach Joe Breen said. “For a team that hasn’t had the lead in the seventh inning a lot of times this seasons, I think we get a little too excited and think the game is over and don’t play to the last out. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for them, they played through the last out and came out on top.”
A leadoff single from Zack Peterson in the top of the fourth got things started for the Hornets. Junior Aidan Cahill followed it up by reaching on a throwing error and senior Mike Arnold loaded the bases with no outs after getting hit with a pitch. Tyrone Pascual grounded into a fielder’s choice, plating Peterson to make it 1-0. Jake Tryder singled in Cahill at the next at bat to double the Hornets’ lead.
Mansfield struck again an inning later with freshman Dan Saraceno leading off with a single. A sacrifice bunt from recently called up sophomore Cullin Anastasia pushed Saraceno to second and a ground out from junior Max Boen pushed the runner to third. Peterson came through with a two out base hit up the middle to extend Mansfield’s lead to 3-0.
Oliver Ames was able to pull a run back in the bottom half of the inning to cut the deficit to two. Mancini reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on a double from senior Chris Romero. Muir then knocked Mancini in with a grounder to second.
It looked like the Hornets added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning, again getting the lead off man on base. Colin Gibbons singled and moved to second on a sac bunt from Saraceno. Max Boen’s sac bunt attempt turned into an error with the throw hitting him as he raced to first, allowing Gibbons to scamper home to make it 4-1.
OA’s Michael Mulrean got the win for the Tigers, allowing a run in two innings of work. Muir was the starter, going five innings with two earned runs allowed. Jack Neureuter pitched a scoreless four innings for Mansfield while Jared Menzer pitched the final three innings.
Oliver Ames baseball improves to 6-8 overall and 6-5 in league play, putting them in second place in the Davenport Division. The Tigers will host Sharon on Monday while Mansfield (4-9 league, 5-10 overall) will play host to North Attleboro on the same day.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.