Needham’s magical, upset-filled run through the Division 1 baseball tournament ended fittingly with a dramatic comeback for the ages Saturday night at Holy Cross.
Trailing, 5-1, with three outs left in their season, the Rockets rallied with four runs in the top of top of the seventh to force extra innings.
An inning later, senior captain Alex Luscher lined a go-ahead RBI double to the gap in left-center and Charlie Roberts shut the door, finishing off 7⅓ stellar innings of relief to cap a dramatic 6-5 victory over St. Peter-Marian.
Needham (18-8), the eighth seed in the Division 1 South bracket, won the program’s first state championship.
“No one quits,” Roberts said. “I can look at everyone on this team and say with 100 percent confidence that no one thought we were finished. This is the hardest-working and most dedicated group of kids I’ve ever been a part of.”
St. Peter-Marian, the Central champion, seized a 5-0 lead in the first two innings.
Needham entered the seventh inning with just two hits and one run.
“I went into the dugout and I told our guys they think we’re out,” Luscher said.
“Every team they played, they would have been out. They never played us. It’s not over.”
Two walks and an error loaded the bases with no outs. Consecutive singles from Kevin Mackenzie, Alec Sharton, and Will Foley made it a 5-4 game. Tom Chmielewski then delivered the game-tying sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Guardians (19-6) had the winning run on third, but Roberts struck out Frankie Hernandez, giving Needham a chance in the eighth.
Leadoff hitter Steve Donovan legged out a two-out infield single before Luscher followed with the go-ahead hit.
“We just don’t quit and we just keep chipping away,” Needham coach Matt Howard said. “We’re just resilient. Five runs is a lot against a team like that. It was just awesome.”Matt Doherty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.