NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- McCann head coach Ken Recore will always appreciate the grit his team displayed all throughout this season.
That resiliency was put to the test once again in Wednesday’s State Vocational Championship at Joe Wolfe Field, as McCann battled back to tie things up before a run in the seventh proved the difference in a 3-2 defeat to the Old Colony Cougars.
“The outcome notwithstanding, I am so proud of these guys for the year that they put together,” Recore said. “You look at coming from the season we had last year and losing all those starters and seniors, and then having a new coach with a lot of changes going on, having the ability to come out and have the year that they had surprised a lot of people. I’m just proud of them for the effort. Every single game from the first one to this last one, they never quit, and they were always in the game, for the most part.”
Ryan McGuiggan’s bases-loaded walk pushed across Nick Furtado with the winning run for Old Colony. Furtado led off the frame with a base hit that managed to stay just fair along the first base line, then Matt Bumpus walked and Jacob Worden reached on an error that filled the bases. McGuiggan worked the count full before drawing the free pass on six pitches.
“A lot of teams don’t get an opportunity after Western Mass to still play for a championship, and we had a great opportunity to come out and play today,” Recore said. “The scoreboard didn’t necessarily reflect the way we wanted it to, but we played some of our better baseball of the year. Old Colony is a really good program and a really good team this year, and to play with them and have a tight baseball game like that, we played one of our best games of the year. But, unfortunately, the end didn’t shake out the way we wanted it to.”
Worden was a force on the mound for the Cougars (17-5), as he went the distance for the victory to close the year with a 7-3 record. The right-hander struck out eight while scattering six hits and two walks, and both runs he surrendered were unearned.
McCann countered with some quality pitching of its own. Southpaw Dalton Tatro made the start for the Hornets (17-6) and went six full innings on 115 total pitches. He allowed seven hits and five walks and recorded four strikeouts.
Old Colony struck right away to take control with a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Furtado walked, advanced thanks to sacrifice bunt and then score on an RBI single from Worden.
Despite having base runners in nearly every inning, the Cougars managed just one more run off of Tatro, while stranding 10 runners all day. Hunter Soares scored on a bases-loaded walk in the third, after he led off the inning with a single past first base.
True to its character, McCann kept fighting back. Andrew Levesque tallied the club’s first hit with a single up the middle in the third to set up the Hornets’ first scoring opportunity. Tatro smacked a double to right and Omar Ugdah walked to load up the bases with two outs, before Worden dialed up a strikeout that rescued him from the jam.
“They were just gritty and were always staying in it,” Recore said of his guys.
The Hornets eventually evened things back up in the fifth. Caleb Rondeau started things off with a base hit to right and Ugdah followed by reaching base on an error. Jared Blondin delivered a shot into the left-center field gap for an RBI single that got McCann on the scoreboard, and Logan Briggs followed by depositing a flare to nearly the same spot to drive in Ugdah with the tying run that made it a 2-2 ball game with two innings left to go.
“I think we had seven or eight games that were two runs or less, and aside from this one and last Friday’s Western Mass game, they all turned out as wins,” Recore said. “They never quit and they came from behind quite a bit, and sometimes it shakes out. Today, unfortunately, it didn’t.”