SUDBURY, Mass. -- Occasionally, the literal and figurative lines separating sports from real life disappear, as they did Friday night at Feeley Field.
While No. 5 Lincoln-Sudbury was scratching and clawing its way to a 2-1, eight-inning victory over Westford, there were symbols all around reminding everyone that what happened on the baseball diamond was not the life or death situation some make it out to be.
The Westford players sported pink undershirts they made for the "Coaches vs. Cancer" fundraiser they had weeks before. Most of the L-S players sported pink wristbands during the game. About 100 feet away from the concession stand, a woman stood at a Coaches vs. Cancer table, collecting donations and selling raffle tickets for a cause she believes in.
Before the game, L-S coach Kirk Fredericks presented Coaches vs. Cancer with a check for a $4,000, on behalf of the school.
These were all done to generate support and raise money for the American Cancer Society. It’s in times like these when one can see that games, at any level, are just that: games.
“Every year I watch the Jimmy Valvano speech (from the 1993 ESPYs) and that really touches me,” said Fredericks, one of the main organizers of the baseball team’s fundraising efforts. “As a matter of fact, I have it on tape because it kind of brings you back down to reality. When you’re going through every day life and you get up and you complain about your boss, or you complain about some kid you have in class.
"My daughter has had a rough two years in life. She doesn’t have cancer, but you go in the hospital and there are kids there that are living in the hospital. It makes you realize how lucky you are. We lost a kid from L-S a couple years ago to leukemia, who was in the baseball program. We have a kid now who is hopefully at the tail end of his battles, so things just make it mean a little more to you.
"Our seniors wanted to raise some money to put towards that cause and if we can have a part in that, then great.”
The team raised money by selling discount cards to various restaurants around the Sudbury area. During the game, raffle tickets were sold for the opportunity to win a signed photograph of Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
The total amount raised by the sales at the game and by the players in school will be added to the donation total, once it is tallied.
L-S works extra innings: On the field, it was the grind one would come to expect by two Dual County League teams.
Westford (9-9) scored its only run of the game off L-S (14-3) pitcher Sid Warrenbrand in the top of the first inning.
John Troy singled to right with one out, then stole second two batters later. He scored from second on a Riley Cox single to make it 1-0.
Troy also did well for himself on the mound also, not allowing a L-S hit until the fourth inning. He walked Matt Cahill to open the inning, then faced Michael Walsh.
Walsh hit a grounder to short, which slowed down considerably in the infield grass. By the time the shortstop could make a play on the ball, Cahill was mere feet away from second base.
Cahill slid head-first into the bag, beating the throw, making everybody safe, and giving L-S its first hit of the game.
He then moved to third, but a 6-4-3 double play gave his team two outs. He scored two pitches later on a Troy wild pitch.
L-S plated the final run of the game after Troy fell apart in the eighth inning. Michael Biggins singled to right to open the inning, then Cahill reached base safely after Troy’s throw to second pulled the shortstop off the bag, making both runners safe.
He then hit Walsh with a 3-1 pitch, which loaded the bases. Warrenbrand’s hit dropped in the outfield to send the fans home happy, and allowed him to finish the game he started.
Warrenbrand shining: Warrenbrand is only a sophomore, but did not pitch like one Friday. After he gave up the run in the first, he left 10 Westford runners on base, three of which reached third base.
His biggest scare came in the sixth inning, when he walked Riley Cox to start the inning. A William Alden single put runners on first and second with nobody out.
He came back and struck out Thomas O’Brien looking, then got Luke Morse to ground out to him, which advanced the runners, but made two outs in the inning.
Connor Murphy came up to hit, but Warrenbrand struck him out swinging, ending any hopes Westford had of scoring in the inning.
He gave up a single to start the seventh inning, but came back and forced a fly ball out and a double play to end the inning.
“He’s been struggling a little bit lately, and struggled in the early part of the game, threw a lot of pitches,” said Fredericks. “He’s been getting better as the game goes on. I think what you saw was that he’s a competitor and he’d come off the mound in each of those last three innings he pitched, and he came off like he just won the state championship. Then he goes and gets the game-winning hit. Sometimes you’re the hero, and sometime’s you’re the goat, but today he was the hero.”
Warrenbrand was relieved in the eighth by David McCullough.