BOSTON — Boston College High pitcher Dan Cobban was thrown onto the mound with the Eagles’ first-round matchup with New Bedford at a crossroads.
BC High ace Tommy McDonald had just surrendered a bases-clearing triple to Whalers senior Mike Rapoza in the third inning on Friday, bringing the underdog New Bedford squad within a run, 5-4, in the top of the third. And after Cobban hit Rick Moraes with his first pitch, the Whalers seemed to have the Eagles on the ropes.
But that proved to be Cobban’s one and only blemish.
Cobban set down the remaining 17 batters in his 5-2/3 dazzling innings of relief, keeping the New Bedford hitters off balance to record the win, while the BC High bats came to life with a four-run fourth and five-run sixth to top the Whalers, 15-5, at Boston College High School.
The sixth-seeded Eagles will play at No. 3 Silver Lake in Monday's quarterfinals.
BC High coach Norm Walsh said Cobban’s performance was similar to his April 26 outing in an extra-inning win against Chelmsford in which Cobban tossed 8-1/3 perfect innings of relief.
“He was totally the difference in the game because he shut them down and they couldn’t shut us down,” Walsh said.
McDonald struggled through 3.1 innings, allowing six hits while walking five —- one intentional —- and giving up five runs. The senior was working out of jams throughout his outing as New Bedford put runners in scoring position in all four innings he appeared in.
With McDonald struggling to find the zone, Cobban said he went in there to throw strikes.
“Tommy walked more than he usually does, so I figured if I give them strikes, it’ll make them hit,” Cobban said.
The game was stopped during the bottom of the fourth after the home plate umpire and field umpire had to switch duties after the home plate umpire appeared to show signs of fatigue as a result of Friday’s excruciating heat. The players returned to their respective benches for the 15-minute delay before the umpires returned to the field after switching equipment.
Once play resumed, the Eagles put an end to any talk about a potential upset. BC High scored four runs in the fourth -— including a two-RBI single by Tommy Landry -— to take a 9-5 advantage.
Landry drove in two more runs with a triple in the sixth as part of his 2-for-5, 5-RBI day.
Eight of the Eagles’ 13 hits came after the delay. Landry said he and teammate Jake Marotta spent the break hitting off the tee to get some more swings in, which he said paid off.
“It kind of gave us some momentum to stop and sit a little bit and we were able to focus up and crush the baseball a little bit,” Landry said.
New Bedford coach John Seed said he had never seen an umpire switch like that before in his 31 years of coaching high school baseball.
But Seed was hesitant to point to the delay as a turning point in the game.
“It seems like it took some wind out of our sails, but, I mean, I don’t know,” Seed said. “Who knows?”
“The health is more important than the game,” Seed continued. “BC’s a good team. We didn’t play our best game today so there’s not much you can do.”
Sean Webster went 3-for-5 at the dish for BC High, including two triples and a pair of RBIs.
Andrew Jaehnig plated two runs in the third and Webster added an RBI single of his own to push the Eagles lead to 5-1.
But the Whalers responded right back, loading the bases in the top of the fourth before Rapoza drilled a triple off McDonald to left field to clear the bases and cut the deficit to 5-4. Rapoza later scored on a sacrifice fly by J.T. Sylvia to even the score at five.