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|Dragons win EMASS baseball title|
|Thursday, 17 June 2010 11:17|
The DHS baseball team is one win away from it first State title after beating No. 1 seed (23-0) and undefeated Masconomet, 2-1, on Tuesday night at Alumni Field in Lowell.
Senior pitcher Jeff Blout continues to lead the Dragons in pursuit of their State crown, and he did it once again with a four-hit/eight strikeout performance that ended Masconometâ€™s winning streak at 23 games.
Blout was masterful in his 119-pitch effort, as he wiggled out of some tough situations before closing the game with a pair of strikeouts in the final inning.
After Masco put runners on first and second in the first inning, Blout fanned clean-up hitter Evan Bunker and got help from brother Steve, who made an unassisted putout at first base to end the inning.
Blout cruised through the second, and it appeared he was about to get some offensive help in the bottom of the inning, only to have the base runner on second base get picked off to end the uprising.
The Chieftains finally broke the deadlock in the third inning when Lee Greeley led off with a bunt single and stole second base when catcher Joe Coyne dropped the ball on the transfer. Blout was able to get the next two batters, but an error by Connor Inglis at third base allowed Greeley to score for a 1-0 lead.
It didnâ€™t take long for the Dragons to strike back.
Shortstop Tom Kazanowski led off with a full-swing bunt down the third base line for a hit, and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Joe Coyne, ending up at third after a passed ball by catcher Colin Shepard. Senior Tommy Guilfoile followed with a single to tie the game at 1-1, and consecutive singles by senior captains Matt Savard and Pat McWilliams loaded the bases for senior Greg Oâ€™Neal.
Oâ€™Neal came through with a single to give Duxbury a 2-1 lead with one out, but the Dragons squandered a chance to build themselves a comfortable lead when the next two batters failed to get the ball out of the infield.
The top of the fourth inning was truly a challenge for Blout, as he tweaked his thigh and allowed a single, a hit batsman, and a walk that loaded the bases for the Chieftains with no one out. The senior righty needed to be at his best, and he fanned the next two batters before Kazanowski ranged to his left to snag a groundball and step on second to end the threat.
â€œI think he was a little tight early on,â€ said Coach Barney Earle. â€œBut when he got out of that bases-loaded no-out jam in the fourth I think the adrenalin kicked in and he was great the last couple of innings. Heâ€™s unbelievable. I canâ€™t say enough.â€
Blout breezed through the fifth and six innings facing just six batters, and he fanned the first two in the top of the seventh inning, making it 11 straight batters who had failed to reach base.
Mascoâ€™s Jason Katz came to the plate, hoping to keep his team alive, and he lifted a fly ball to right field for what looked like the final out. However, Oâ€™Neal hesitated, as he had trouble finding the ball in the twilight sky and watched it drop in front of him for a double.
With the tying run on second, Gabe Dunn had a chance to be a hero for the Chieftains. He hit a high pop-up to the right side of the infield that seemed to disappear on Steve Blout, only to have Savard get a clear view of the ball and snag it for the final out.
â€œWe didnâ€™t pound the ball, but we put it in play and kept the pressure on them,â€ said Earle. â€œIt was a monumental task playing against these guys. We knew what we were up against and saw everything they did all year. They are a great team and a bunch of great athletes. They did a real nice job and were first-class kids all the way. Our kids never gave up and they believed in themselves and that is just what we needed.â€
The EMASS champs will now take on Northbridge, the central MA winner, who defeated Western MA winner South Hadley, 10-0, on Tuesday night.
â€œI can pitch tomorrow if I had to. Itâ€™s all adrenalin out here,â€ said Blout after the game. â€œI can go through a little pain for these guys. They are worth it. They make all the plays behind me. Itâ€™s a team effort and I just represent the team on the mound.â€
The game will be played at LeLacheur Park in Lowell on Saturday afternoon at 3:15 p.m.