DePippo hurls Apponequet to first sectional title

QUINCY, Mass. -- Top-seeded Middleborough entered Tuesday’s Division 3-South championship game against No. 6 Apponequet having scored a “grand” total of eight runs in its previous three tournament games.

That total remained at eight after Lakers lefty Dan DePippo tossed a masterpiece, blanking the Sachems, 1-0, on three hits for the first baseball sectional title in school history.

How effective was DePippo?

Check this out:

  • He allowed only three hits, each of which was a single.

  • He issued zero walks and struck out seven.

  • He threw 70 of 106 pitches for strikes which computed to 66 percent.

  • One hit was of the infield variety, by Luke Zulak.

  • He faced only three batters over the minimum, with one Sachem reaching on an error.

Other than that …

“His control was a big factor,” Apponequet coach Bob Lomp said. “He’s very economical. When you’re a strikeout pitcher, you’re going to throw a lot of pitches. To be economical and get a lot of strikes like he did today … well, that was a gutsy performance especially on three days’ rest.”

Middleboro lefty Nick Radcliffe also delivered a commendable performance. In fact, he was working on a no-hitter for 4 2/3 innings before Josh Cabucio singled in the fifth.

“Nick pitched a great ballgame,” coach Bill Lawrence said. “They just put a couple of hits together and we didn’t.

“If you don’t score runs, you’re not going to win any games.”

Apponequet (16-4) finally hung a run on the Adams Field board in the sixth. But only after Middleborough (20-4) flashed some serious leather.

Shortstop Zulak ranged far to his right, speared a shot by Matt Schell and threw to first for the out.

Then, Nick Cogliano hit a sinking liner to center only to have Chris Benson make a spectacular, diving catch.

But Chris Travers and DiPippo followed with singles and Nate Michael launched a 1-and-2 pitch to center for an RBI double.

“Nate’s been clutch for us all year in that five-spot,” Lomp said. “Nate didn’t look pretty on those two swings and misses. But that’s classic Nate. He’ll swing at everything and then he hammers one.

“The ball wasn’t traveling today so even when it was in the air I thought their center fielder was going to have a chance. But it was deep enough to get the run in. With a pitching performance like that from both sides, one run is going to do it.”

Given DePippo’s performance, Lomp was right on target.

“He’s a big kid and he’s very strong,” Lomp said. “He runs a lot between starts. We had him on pitch counts so tight early in April and May to get him to this point. We would take him out mid-inning sometimes in a game where he was ahead just because we wanted to build him up for the tournament run.

“That was the goal all year … to have Danny healthy for the tournament. He really came up big in the last two innings.”

How big?

This big: DePippo struck out five Sachems overs those last two frames, which enabled him to up his season record to 8-1 and his two-year career mark to 16-2.

Despite all the Sachems accomplished this season, the loss was particularly hard for Lawrence to swallow.

“We had a good season,” he said. “I’m not going to dwell on anything negative. The worst thing about this is this is probably one of my favorite teams and I don’t want to let go of them. They’re just good kids.

“[Apponequet] outplayed us today. That was the bottom line. It was a well-played game on both sides. This time of year you expect good teams to play well.”