LOWELL - Five months before he will be inducted into the National High School Baseball Hall of Fame, North Reading coach Frank Carey has another Division 3 North championship to add to his resume.
The Hornets defeated Lynnfield, 3-2, in eight innings at LeLacheur Park Saturday afternoon.
“I heard what Kevin Garnett said about the sixth game against Miami and he thought their mistake was that they got too jacked up for the game,’’ said Carey. “I talked to [our team] yesterday and talked to them today and told them not to make a big deal of this game because it was for the North title. It wasn’t. It’s another game, and it’s the game we were playing today.”
“We’ve played good defense all year, good pitching with some timely hitting,’’ said Lynnfield coach John O’Brien. “We tried to take it one pitch at a time.’’
Lynnfield broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two-out single by Dylan Costa to bring home pinch-runner Alec Vittum. North Reading (20-4) answered back in the top of the sixth as Colby Maiola blooped a single over the head of Costa to bring in Dennis Rollfs.
In the top of the seventh, Hornets pinch-hitter Shane Driscoll was tangled in some roster controversy. The sophomore was listed on the roster as No. 9 but trotted out donning a 24. After a 20-minute delay, Driscoll needed to take teammate Blake Tamlyn-Hayden’s No. 9 jersey and laid down a key bunt, setting up an RBI single from Rollf that scored pinch-runner Jonathan Gravellese to make it 2-1.
With a man on second and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Lynnfield freshman catcher Traverse Briana’s single to center brought home Costa from second, sending the game into extra innings tied at 2.
“Every time they fouled the ball off and made big hits, I said that was typical Lynnfield,’’ said Carey. “Those guys don’t give up, they don’t quit, they don’t die, and have won games all year long at the last at-bat and it is characteristic of them.’’
In the top of the eighth with the bases loaded, Hornets pitcher Ryan McAuliffe was hit by a pitch and Maiola scored to give North Reading the 3-2 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, McAullife hit two Lynnfield batters, and with the bases loaded and two outs, Riley Warnock came in to replace McAuliffe and struck out Chris Lang to end the game.
“I never thought these kids would come together this fast,’’ said Carey. “We were 0-2 at the beginning of the year and we’ve gone 20-2 [since].
“Our motto all year has been that we try again, fail again, and get better and that’s what baseball is all about.’’