ACTON, Mass. –- Westford Academy only had one home run on the season going into Thursday night’s game, but it was their power hitting that got them past league rival Acton-Boxboro (10-5), pulling out a 10-6 victory that made the Grey Ghosts the Dual County League Large champs.
Westford (11-6) took an early 4-2 lead going into the third inning, thanks in part to a leadoff hit by Shane Wright followed by back-to-back bunt singles by Mike Malynn and Evan Guillemette to load the bases in the top of the first.
Guillemette and Ryan Pocock started off the third inning in style, belting back-to-back home runs on the first two pitches of the inning to extend their lead to 6-2. Malynn hit a two-run homer in the top of the fourth to bring the lead up to 8-2.
“That was only the second, third, and fourth [home run] all year," head coach Cory Roman said. "I don’t know where that came from at all, obviously we’ll take it. Guys have been working hard all year, obviously it showed. They got some good swings on the ball during those middle innings."
A-B didn’t show any quit despite the early deficit, plating three in the bottom of the fourth. They took advantage of three walks in the inning by Westford starting pitcher Luke Morse, to bring the score to 8-5.
“These are underclassmen, a lot of little skinny sophomores, and one thing I hope they learned is what it takes to play Division 1 high school baseball in Massachusetts," A-B coach Pat Grucela said. "It was a great learning experience for this crew, I couldn’t prouder of the effort."
All 11 of the Colonials’ seniors were suspended for a violation of team rules, forcing Grucela to bring several players up from junior varsity and start kids, who, for the most part, hadn’t seen many varsity innings in the past.
“The fact that we had all underclassmen in the game today..I loved that they competed, but I more loved that they had fun doing it—they just enjoyed it, they enjoyed competing against their number one DCL large rival,” said the Colonials’ coach.
Westford went to Stephen O’Brien first out of the bullpen in the fourth—he pitched 1 1/3 before Roman went to closer Max Mardany to seal the 10-6 victory. Mardany not only placed his fastball with pinpoint accuracy, his velocity also gave A-B batters plenty of fits; he struck out the final six Colonial hitters of the game.
“[The velocity] was nice, throwing strikes more importantly -- that was the difference between him and the other pitchers tonight…for both sides," Roman said. "Being able to throw strikes -- that helped us out. We told him challenge the hitters and make them hit the fastball."
After the game, Grucela praised reliever Josh Geller -- who, despite never pitching a varsity inning, was able to throw off Westford’s batters and help keep the Colonials in the game until the very end.
“He threw strikes and he really mixed it up well," Grucela said. "We also had great at bats, [Westford starter] Luke Morse is a top pitcher in the area and they chased him out after a lot of pitches. They battled, and I loved it. That was the gameplan going in, these kids executed it."
The DCL title marked Westford’s first since 2009, when they shared the Large title with Lincoln-Sudbury, and Roman’s first as head coach at the school. The Grey Ghosts will be off until tournament time, as their seniors depart on a class trip to Florida next week. Acton-Boxboro will be upset-minded on Saturday, as they travel to B.C. High to take on the second-ranked Eagles.