LOWELL, Mass. -- It was a game where, oddly enough, Lowell did not really have to do much.
In a game crucial for both teams’ postseason aspirations, Boston College High School’s pitchers walked 14 Lowell hitters. The Red Raiders came away with a 16-5 victory while only needing nine hits.
It started in the first inning, when Eric Simonelli walked Brian Dolan to begin the bottom of the first. Keagan Latta dropped a sacrifice bunt down, but he ended up beating the throw to first. Tyler Schermerhorn walked on four pitches, which loaded the bases with no one out. Conor Callery grounded out to second, scoring the first run of the game.
Lowell plated four more in the second after Simonelli walked two more. He was removed from the game after walking the bases loaded. Schermerhorn doubled to clear the bases and put his team up 5-0 early in the bottom of the second.
“We definitely benefited from their inability to throw strikes there for a while,” said Lowell coach Danny Graham. “We capitalized on some situations too with some timely hitting, so it was a combination. I wasn’t expecting to come in here and have it be a rout or win by 11 runs. I expected it to be much closer. I was even worried it could’ve gone in the opposite direction. The kids played well.”
In the fifth, things just got worse for BC High. After Randy DeJesus walked, Dawy Lebron hit a triple over the head of the center fielder to score him all the way from first. After that, BC High pitchers walked six straight batters. The team batted around in the inning. When DeJesus came up again, he hit a soft fly ball to second -- but due to a miscommunication between the second and first basemen, the ball fell in and all runners were safe.
BC High had an opportunity to swing the momentum its way in the third inning. With only one out, it had the bases loaded. Graham decided it was time to pull DeJesus and bring in junior Jack Scott. He got Steve Ohanesian to ground to third and start a 5-2-3 double play to end the inning and get Lowell out of its biggest jam of the game.
The Eagles added two more in the top of the fifth to the the game 5-5, but Lowell came back in the bottom of the inning with 6 runs to blow the game wide open.
“Pitching was the biggest factor, clearly No. 1,” said BC High coach Norm Walsh. “We have to throw strikes. I think every pitcher walked in at least one run and walked three or four batters. That’s the key: we’ve gotta throw strikes. I think it deflates the rest of the team when you don’t throw strikes and things kind of snowball.”
Super 8 implications? Thursday’s win gives Lowell another notch in the win column as it hopes to make a case for a spot in the inaugural Division 1A "Super Eight" postseason tournament. After appearing on the initial tournament Watch List, Lowell fell out of the discussion because of its early losses and its perceived lack of strength of schedule.
The convincing win over BC High, coupled with winning its league title, will certainly help towards convincing the tournament voters. Its postseason fate will probably be decided by its ability to win its remaining games, starting with the opening round of the Spinners Cup Sunday at LeLacheur Park.
“Since we’ve been on the Watch List, we’ve only had one loss and that was to Chelmsford,” said Graham. “We won our league and still have one league game left. We’ve been holding our own. We have some quality wins, too, so whether or not we’re in the conversation? I don’t know. We were on the Watch List and I don’t know if we’ve done anything since then to hurt us. I guess it’s all subject to other peoples' opinions.”
On the other side of the field, BC High’s Super Eight resume took a hit and may continue to do so throughout the weekend. It plays Newton North tomorrow afternoon and Braintree on Saturday, weather permitting. As the regular season winds down and teams jockey for position, those three games would be tough for anyone, never mind on three consecutive days.
“I tried to tell the team this was an important game for us,” said Walsh. “It would’ve been win No. 10. We played very very poorly on Monday. We lost 3-1 to Catholic Memorial, but we had 16 base runners in the first six innings and we score one run.
"It’s an accumulation of mental mistakes, a lack of alertness, not throwing strikes. For some reason, we’ve just kind of lost generic focus here on what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Laliberte (hamstring) sidelined: Things went from bad to worse for BC High Thursday. On top of the lopsided score, it may have lost its leadoff hitter, Chris LaLiberte, to an injury. LaLiberte led off the top of the seventh and grounded out to short. When he hit the first base bag, he went down quickly holding his leg. With assistance from his coach and Lowell’s athletic trainer, he was able to get to his feet and move gingerly back to the BC High bench.
“Chris has a bad hamstring pull, there’s no question,” said Walsh. “I’ve been doing this long enough. Just watching and seeing how he reacted, that’s pretty much it."
Since the Eagles play two more games Friday and Saturday, his future playing status is undetermined.