BRAINTREE - Plymouth North coach Dwayne Follette is a perfectionist when it comes to fundamental baseball - the sacrifice bunts, hit-and-runs, and aggressive base running that have helped his teams win two Division 2 state championships.
But what unfolded Monday night in Plymouth North’s 4-3 win over Dighton-Rehoboth in the Division 2 South final at Braintree High School was on a different level.
Dighton-Rehoboth had runners on first and second, threatening to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning and Falcons freshman Ryan Murphy squared to bunt.
The Plymouth North infield yelled ‘bunt’ and charged in, but Eagles shortstop David Murphy looped behind second base and pitcher Jake Stearns picked off pinch runner Jacob Larrimore - erasing the go-ahead run.
Plymouth North (17-7) will play Burlington (16-8) Tuesday night at LeLacheur Park in Lowell at 7 p.m.
“We constantly work on the fundamentals, pickoff plays and bunt defenses like that and we just worked on it yesterday,’’ Follette said. “But I knew against a good team we had to do something special.’’
What prompted Follette to make such a gutsy call so late in the game?
“When [D-R coach Bill Cuthbertson] put in a pinch runner,’’ Follette said. “I knew they were going to bunt, and pinch runners are always over-anxious. And he didn’t do that bad of a job, he just crept off too much.’’
After the failed bunt and pickoff play, Ryan Murphy grounded out. The next batter, Shane Gousie, singled to make it a one-run game.
“That’s ‘Dwayne Ball’ right there,’’ Stearns said. “There it is.’’
Dighton-Rehoboth (20-3) jumped to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run home run from Evan Mondor, but Plymouth North cut into the lead with an RBI single from right fielder Joe Kingsbury in the second.
In the fifth, catcher Connor Follette, Dwayne’s son, singled in the tying run, and David Murphy’s groundout scored Jamie Dougherty for a 3-2 lead.
In the top of the sixth, center fielder Ryan Moskos singled in the eventual winning run.
Stearns, a senior, tossed a complete game, and allowed just five hits.
“I knew I had to settle down, and I got great plays in the field,’’ Stearns said. “[Getting the run in the second] helped me settle in a lot.’’