LYNN, Mass. -- Seven innings were not enough and convention was thrown to the wind, so Dighton-Rehoboth coach Bill Cuthbertson laid down a daring sign.
In a the midst of a heated pitching duel that spilled into extra innings, D-R found themselves with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th inning and one out.
That’s when Cuthbertson called for a suicide squeeze that was laid out perfectly towards the first base side by Steve Silvia, scoring Brody Rubenstein for the biggest run in Falcons’ history as they defeated Danvers, 1-0, for the MIAA Division 2 state championship, the program’s first.
DIGHTON REHOBOTH FALCONS BEAT DANVERS 1-0 IN EXTRA INNINGS TO WIN DIVISION 2 STATE CHAMPIONSHIP! pic.twitter.com/OTZ1hf4INP— Colin Bushell (@cbushh) June 16, 2016
“We’ve been chasing this for a long time,” said Dighton-Rehoboth coach Bill Cuthbertson, who has coached at the school since 1980. “I never said it to the kids, but I really feel like they were carrying the torch for all the guys that have played for me for the last 37 years.”
The entire Dighton-Rehoboth stage was set by South Coast Conference MVP Joey Rogers, who was nearly flawless in throwing a complete game, three-hit shutout.
Then in the eighth inning it was Rogers who came up with the key hit for the Falcons, following up Rubenstein’s leadoff single with one of his own right up the middle that put runners at the corners with no outs.
“When I was rounding second, I knew I had to get to third and we’d have a good chance of winning this game,” said Rubenstein. “I knew we had a couple of batters coming up that were going to hit the ball. I had all confidence in my team. I knew we were going to get something in.”
“I felt good with the top of the order coming up in the last inning,” said Cuthbertson. “Fortunately we beat out the infield hit, we chopped one through and then we get a squeeze bunt. Whatever it takes.”
Anthony Olszak was able to get Jake Salera on strikes and chose to walk cleanup man Cory Farrelly to load the bases.
Up stepped Silvia who took the first two pitches of his at-bat for balls and that is when Cuthbertson decided it was now or never for his club.
“He did exactly the right in walking Farrelly,” said Cuthbertson on Danvers’ decision to load the bases. “When we got ahead in the count, (the suicide squeeze) was in my mind.”
From the onset the game was the ultimate pitcher’s duel, with three hurlers giving it everything they had in their final chance for glory.
While Rogers’ efforts deserve a more succinct breakdown, the duo of Dean Borders and Anthony Olszak equaled his efforts.
Borders started extremely strong with 4-1/3 innings of no-hit ball, but with Olszak at the ready, Danvers coach Roger Day made the call in the fifth after his starter gave up back-to-back walks.
Olszak announced his presence with a big strikeout of Matt Andrade, one of five on the night for him, and helped keep D-R hitless until the sixth inning when he allowed a two-out single to Farrelly.
“Both pitched well enough to win,” Day said of his pitchers. “They were throwing some great guys,” Rogers said of his counterparts. “They got some workhorses over there. They’ve been doing that all year.”
In the end Dighton-Rehoboth was able to momentarily solve one of those horses, riding off into the sunset after a thrilling title game on the mount of a walk-off suicide squeeze.
THE MASTERFUL MVP: Joey Rogers has been the Falcons ace all season long, entering his final game for Dighton-Rehoboth with seven wins and 86 strikeouts on the season.
On Wednesday night he kicked things up a level, putting together a masterful performance that he felt fready for from the get-go.
“From the start my arm felt great, from the first pitch of warmups,” he said. “I was throwing on six days rest. I was lucky to get an extra day…Legs are still sore from that Monday game, body was fatigued, but stuck with the routine, stuck with the process, did my recovery and came ready for today’s game.”
Rogers looked sharp immediately, striking out two of the first three batters he faced. He would finish with nine strikeouts on the night.
He was able to get ahead in the count on 17 of the 27 batters he faced, putting him in the driver’s seat in nearly every at-bat.
“Joey Rogers was immense,” said Cuthbertson. “He just pitched a great game. He got ahead of hitters. He really rose to the occasion.”
In control of his fastball he registered 17 swings and misses out of opposing batters, and his sharp curve had Danvers' batters second guessing things.
In control, he served up just three hits and did not allow a walk, finishing the night with a complete game victory, that needed an extra inning of work that tilted his pitch total to 98, 65 for strikes.
“It’s tough for us to win when you don’t get one walk, and you don’t get guys on base,” said Day. “We didn’t put the bat on the ball well against him, and he didn’t walk anyone and we couldn’t put any pressure on him.”
“What you saw from him tonight is what we’ve been watching all year long really,” said Cuthbertson. “He’s been phenomenal. He was MVP of our league for a reason. I think he showed you why tonight, then he got the big hit to move the guy to third.”