BROCKTON - In the course of five days, Casey DeAndrade has proven that there isn’t much on the diamond he can’t do well.
After throwing 221 pitches in two starts over three days to get the Vikings to the Division 3 South final, the East Bridgewater senior continued his outstanding postseason at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a double, triple, and two RBIs to help his team clinch the Division 3 South title with a 5-0 win over Apponequet Sunday at Campanelli Stadium.
“We’ve never really won anything with our group,’’ said DeAndrade. “We’ve come wicked short, but we’ve finally won something. Hopefully, we can continue it.’’
In the Vikings’ third game in as many days - and fourth in five days - defense was key and the tone was set early. In Apponequet’s first at-bat, Jim Cabucio lifted a ball. After taking a few steps forward, right fielder Tim O’Brien quickly turned around and adjusted to make a spectacular leaping grab on the run.
“You won’t see that in the big leagues,’’ said East Bridgewater coach Pat Cronin. “The ball disappears, and he comes up with it ho-hum, and just throws it in. You could just feel the crowd and the whole team pick up after that. If the ball had gone the other way, who knows what would have happened.’’
East Bridgewater would break through in the third. With the bases loaded and no outs, Apponequet pitcher Josh Fickert got Jake Pierce to ground to third, where Zachary Bernard got the out at home on the fielder’s choice.
Next up was DeAndrade, who hit a grounder to second that took a high hop off the second baseman’s chest. DeAndrade narrowly beat the throw, and Andrew Benson scored to put the Vikings up, 1-0.
“I just tried to leg it out,’’ said DeAndrade. “I saw the first base coach waving, so I thought I had a chance, and I just beat it out.’’
Any attempt by Apponequet to get the equalizer was quelled by strong play from East Bridgewater’s infield. The Vikings turned two double plays, keeping the Lakers from advancing past second base.
DeAndrade brought in another run with a double to left in the fifth inning that almost went out of the park. O’Brien scored from third. A fantastic relay from left fielder Tim O’Malley to shortstop Stephen Gauthier to catcher Rick Ekstrom nailed Pierce at home as he tried to score from first, keeping the game within reach at 2-0.
The Vikings added three more runs in the top of the seventh to put the game away, the loudest hit coming off the bat of DeAndrade. With two outs in the frame, DeAndrade crushed a fastball to deep center that rolled to the 403-foot marker. Pierce scored from first, but DeAndrade was tossed out at home as he attempted to leg out an inside-the-park home run.
“I wanted to score,’’ he said. “There was no question [I was going home].’’
Ethan Forrest pitched a gem for East Bridgewater, allowing only four hits over seven innings while striking out four.
The win sends the Vikings to the Division 3 EMass final against North Reading at Campanelli Stadium Tuesday at 4 p.m.