DORCHESTER, Mass. -- Lowell’s Matt Tulley found himself in a jam in the first inning of his team’s game against BC High Saturday. After walking two of the first four batters he faced, BC High was threatening to get on the board with runners on the corners and two outs.
On the first pitch to Justin Silvestro, Bob Sabatino tried stealing second to put two runners in scoring position. However, instead of throwing down to second or ignoring the runner altogether, Lowell catcher Padraic Donovan threw to third, where he caught Dan Dougherty too far off the bag, getting the third out of the inning and getting his pitcher out of a jam.
It was that kind of an afternoon for the Eagles. Lowell capitalized on almost every error they made, both physical and mental ,and came away with an 8-1 victory. Its offense gave it the lead, and its defense held it.
“Every time we come to play we can be the best team in the state I think,” said Tulley, who was 2-for-4 at the plate. “We just have to bring it every day and sometimes we don’t.”
Luke Barkowski was holding his own on the mound for BC High (9-5) through the first 1.2 innings, until he hit R.J. Noel on the arm with a pitch. James Ricoy, the next batter up and No. 7 hitter in the Lowell (10-5) lineup, hit a double to the gap in right-center to plate Noel. The ensuing walk to Donovan put runners on first and second with two outs. Kyle Edwards hit a grounder to second that normally would end the inning, but not Saturday. The second baseman misplayed the ball, making all runners safe and allowing Noel to score.
Momentum seemed to be shifting in BC High’s direction in the third when Mike O’Donnell relieved Tulley, who recorded three strikeouts, two walks, and no hits over his two innings of work. O’Donnell appeared to have trouble with his location, walked two batters on eight pitches, and was removed after one-third of an inning. However, the Eagles could not capitalize, and left both runners stranded.
It surprised some when Tulley was removed from the game after two innings, given how well he was pitching. Coach Dan Graham said he was just conserving his ace for later in the season.
“If anything, Matt was only going to go three tops, and that was if he was super efficient,” Graham said. “Big picture is that we’re trying to win a league championship and already qualified for the state tournament, and we have a game Friday. He was pitching on four days rest, so I wasn’t going to ask him to do too much for us today. He has to get ready for his next start.”
In the fourth, Edwards took over on the mound for Lowell. He surrendered the first three BC High hits, but the team still had trouble getting on the scoreboard. With one out in the fifth, Edwards had given up a hit and two walks to load the bases. Silvestro hit a line drive into right that it appeared would get at least one run home.
However, Ricoy was able to make a running catch coming towards the infield for the second out of the inning. Sean Duggan, the runner on third, had assumed the ball was going to drop in for a hit, so he was halfway to home. When he saw the ball was caught, he had to go back to third to tag-up, but by then, Ricoy had thrown the ball back in, making Duggan stay at third.
The only BC High run came later when Edwards walked Jake Ohanesian, forcing home a run.
Barkowski kept Lowell off the board through his last three innings and gave way to Jack Higgins in the seventh, hoping he could keep the score at 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh. The Raider bats exploded in the inning however, putting up five runs to give the team an almost insurmountable lead.
“He gave us fastballs in two-strike counts,” said Graham. “I thought the guys just did a good job of bearing down when they were in counts where they had two strikes on them. I think for the most part they put balls in play and made things happen.”