BROCKTON, Mass. -- Middleborough’s “streak” ended in Thursday’s Division 2 state championship game against Danvers at Campanelli Stadium.
After winning four consecutive games in walk-off fashion, the South champion Sachems scored the winning runs in the fifth and edged the North champion Falcons, 4-3, for the state title.
“We wanted to come here and hopefully have a normal win -- one that lasted seven innings,” said a relieved Sachems coach Bill Lawrence. “We fell behind (2-0 in the first inning). One of our coaches said ‘We’re right where we want to be.’ But that’s not where we really wanted to be.
“(Danvers Andrew Olszak) pitched a heckuva ball game. We told the kids you knew he was going to be around the strike zone so sit on the fastball when you can. But he kept us off-balance. We were able to put a couple of hits together. (Cody) Braga’s home run was huge. That lifted us.”
Middleborough (21-4) trailed 2-0 entering the top of the third when Ed Hart was hit by a pitch for a second time and after an out Braga crushed a 2-1 pitch over the left-field fence that tied the game at 2-2.
Early turning point: What proved to be a key point in the game came in Danvers’ second when Lawrence removed starter Chris Reed in favor of Nikolas Enos after Tom Mento led with a single and Chris Valles walked.
Enos retired the next three Falcons which, in retrospect, was a premonition of things to come even though Danvers (21-4) clipped him for a run in the third.
Matt Andrews singled, moved up on Jordan DeDonato’s sacrifice bunt and after an out scooted to third on a wild pitch.
Devonn Allen then delivered an RBI single that gave the Falcons a 3-2 lead.
Middleborough scored its last two runs in the fifth.
Brendan Chipman led with a single and zipped to second on a wild pitch. Olszak then intentionally walked Braga and Paul Sances beat out an infield hit but shortstop Allen threw the ball away for an error which allowed Chipman to score the tying run.
Braga, who advanced to third on the play, scored what proved to be the game-winner on Joe Scalfani’s sacrifice fly to right field.
Strike-throwing machine: After that it was all Enos.
A junior left-hander, Enos earned the victory by pitching the last six innings and allowing one run on four hits and one walk replete with six strikeouts.
Even more impressive was the fact he threw 50 of 75 pitches for strikes.
“Nick Enos came out of the bullpen and was tremendous,” said Lawrence. “He’s coming off surgery. We lost him for 10 days.
“Reed started the last (regular-season) game and got in some trouble. (Enos) came in and did the same thing.”
Enos, who checks in at 5-9 and 125 pounds, is far from an overpowering pitcher. But as Lawrence was quick to attest his young left-hander knows how to pitch.
“He’s got a bunch of junk that makes his fastball look fast and effective,” said Lawrence. “He’s not afraid of anything.”
Lawrence had zero hesitancy to go to Enos after Reed got in trouble.
“I wanted to give Chris another opportunity because he had a bad outing in his last time and he’s been our leader the whole season,” said Lawrence. “I wanted to give him one more try but he was on a short leash. He knew it. When I took the ball, he didn’t have a problem with it.
“Nick started out slowly. It was probably mid-season before he got his first varsity work.”
Enos had minimal problems with the Falcons – one reason being he retired five of the last nine batters he faced on strikeouts.
He did have to work out of a seventh-inning jam when Olszak singled with one out, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout to the mound. But Enos induced DeDonato to ground out to second which set of a wild celebration by the Sachems.
“I didn’t think of it that way,” Enos said when apprised of his strikes-to-balls ratio. “I just wanted to throw strikes and get ahead in the count. That was the key.
“The key is to keep them off balance and just mix up the pitches. That’s my go-to (routine).”
Enos, at the risk of making an understatement, was able to exhale since the Sachems didn’t need to play until the very last pitch in order to pull out a victory.
“I’m glad,” Enos said with a smile. “In our group message for baseball we were saying from Day One that we were winning the state championship this year. We’re such a close-knit group.”
“This team refuses to lose,” said Lawrence. “We’ve been contributing one through nine. That’s what’s nice about it. I don’t have to rely on the middle of the order.
“We were lucky enough in the playoffs to have everybody one through nine contributing.”