WORCESTER — Riding the arm of sophomore sidearmer Matt Palmer, the Auburn baseball team knocked off Dover-Sherborn, 4-1, at Fitton Field on Saturday afternoon to claim the Division 3 state championship.
“We only expected him to go three or four [innings] because of the way he throws,” Auburn coach Eric Swedberg said. “We didn’t expect him to do the whole thing today.”
Palmer limited Dover-Sherborn (17-9) to seven hits over seven innings and struck out five. His teammates rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth to break a 1-1 tie and finish a 21-4 season.
Dover-Sherborn, which entered the tourney as the eighth seed in the South sectional, was playing in its first state final.
“A ton of character on this team, battling from early season,” Dover-Sherborn coach Steve Ryan said. “We’re very proud, for a program that sometimes struggles to get guys, we think this is gonna wake up baseball in Dover-Sherborn.”
Junior catcher Brian Sarkisian put Auburn on top in the first inning with an RBI double, but both pitchers settled down after the first. The score remained 1-0 until the fifth, when Dover-Sherborn scored.
With two outs and runners on second and third, junior Matt Strong put down a squeeze bunt down the third base line to push home junior Trevor Bowman for a 1-1 game. But Jon Musgrave — trying to score from second — was thrown out at the plate, ending the Raiders’ best scoring threat.
In the sixth, senior Luke Matthews and juniors Colin McKeon and Mike Collins all registered RBIs to give Auburn a 4-1 lead.
“We had three returning starters, we thought we were going to have a really hard time,” Swedberg said.
“Hats off to our seniors, they came into the season blind because we lost such good leadership last year. We’ve had a lot of young guys step up and our seniors have been teaching, helping the coaching staff make everything smooth.”James Duffy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.