BILLERICA, Mass. -- Baseball is not a game that allows much time for reflection -- good or bad.
On Friday, Chelmsford was on the wrong side of a gut-wrenching, extra-inning loss to BC High. Such defeats usually have coaches wondering aloud about the overall mental state of their team’s psyche after such a calamitous loss. Lions coach Mike O’Keefe was no exception.
O’Keefe’s Lions returned to action Monday with a task equally as difficult as the one they encountered a short 72 hours prior. Against unbeaten Billerica, Chelmsford knew they had to get to get the bats off their shoulders to have any chance. The Lions also understood what a victory over their border rivals would do for their spiraling confidence.
Chelmsford rode that premise all the way to a 14-6 victory at Hall of Fame Field, after scoring nine runs in the third and adding five more in the fourth.
“One of the things we preach all the time here is you learn from the past but you can’t live in the past," O’Keefe said. “You learn from it, you let it go and you move on. We did that today. Our kids came out and swung the bats very well today. I know these kids have confidence in themselves but it has been lacking a little bit of late. Hopefully a game like this will improve our confidence a little more."
Falling behind 1-0 early, Chelmsford (6-3) took things over for good in the third by sending 13 batters to the plate. Billerica starter Robert Gambale was effective in his first two innings on the mound, but got punched around in the third as he allowed nine runs on nine hits and the Lions grabbed a 9-1 lead.
An RBI single off the bat of Mike DeDonato (3-for-4, three RBI) followed up by a run-producing triple from Russell Olive gave Chelmsford a 2-1 lead. The Lions bats, which finished with 16 hits overall, continued to pelt Gambale in the inning. Matt Rabbito doubled in Olive. Moments later Rabbito came around on Mike Rosa’s line single. The assault continued after Chelmsford loaded the bases. A fly out produced another run and DeDonato returned to the batters box and promptly blasted a two-run triple off the fence in right field.
“We knew coming in this was going to be a big test for us," said DeDonato, a junior. “That’s a great team we played and we knew we needed to come out swinging or else they would’ve put us away. Today we swung the bats well."
Reliever Chris Murphy took over for Gambale with two outs in the third, and was able to stop the bleeding for the time being. But entering the fourth, the junior righty wasn’t as fortunate. Murphy open things by issuing back-to-back walks and serving up a soft single to load the bases with nobody out. That set things up for sophomore Ben Sauter (three RBI), who drove in a pair with a hard single to right to make it 11-1.
Before the inning was over, the Lions plated three more courtesy of a Jack Campsmith single, a pass ball and an RBI single by Tommy Bishop, extending the lead to 13 runs.
The Indians (8-1) mustered a mini-comeback against Chelmsford right-hander Quinn Cooney in the fifth on the strength of a two-run double from Alec Mattar and an RBI single by Max Frawley. Billerica added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings but the deficit was much-to deep to crawl out from.
“It was great to see them battle back,” Indians coach Joe Higgins said. “Even though the score was so lopsided they never quit. This was just a stinker for us today. Hopefully it’s a wake up call. I hope these kids now realize they need to bear down and know they need to play every game hard right from the beginning.”