NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Next week, dozens of baseball teams around the commonwealth will begin the long march to a state championship when sectional play gets under way.
The McCann Tech Hornets will be one of only two teams who already have one.
Billy Bohl hit a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, and Jeremy Beany allowed one earned run in seven innings on the mound to lead the Hornets to a 4-3 win over Westfield Tech on Friday in the State Vocational Small School Division tournament final at Joe Wolfe Field.
“This was really big,” said senior catcher Logan Tower, who went 2-for-2 with three RBIs. “It was a huge game. We’ve never won a State Voc championship in the history of the school. Obviously, we had a little bit of nerves coming into it, but after a little bit, we settled in and we were fine. We were just playing baseball.”
McCann Tech (20-2) got nine hits from eight different batters. Tower produced in all three of his plate appearances: driving in Caleb Rondeau with a sac fly in the first, singling to right to plate Mike Ferrara in the third after WTA pulled ahead, 3-1, and ripping a single down the left-field line to score James Hamilton with the tying run in the fifth.
It was a far cry from the 18-1, six-inning drubbing delivered by the Hornets in the teams’ first meeting back in April.
“We knew they were getting better and better,” Tower said. “We didn’t expect them to be this good. But coach warned us. We played as well as we could, and we got the ‘W.’ “
McCann Tech coach Pat Ryan’s “Don’t be complacent” speech may have been a little more effective after the Hornets blew a four-run, seventh-inning lead in the State Voc semi-finals only to come back and advance on Monday.
“We honestly did not expect Wesfield to show up today,” Ryan said. “We thought Old Colony was coming. Westfield brought a great team. Coach [Robert Eak] did a great job getting them ready for the tournaments, and it wasn’t the same team.
“I told these guys: We beat ‘em 18-1 the first time, and you just can’t think like that.”
This Tiger team looked more like the Westfield Tech -- then Westfield Voc -- squad that handed McCann Tech a 6-0 home loss in the Western Mass tournament back in 2105.
“Three or four years ago, they had our number,” Ryan said. “They’ve always come here and played really good baseball. And they did today.”
The Hornets drew first blood when Rondeau belted a one-out triple over the center fielder’s head and came home on Tower’s sacrifice.
In the top of the third, Westfield Tech cashed in on two McCann Tech errors. Andrew Daniels’ RBI double tied the game, and he ended up scoring on an errant throw from the outfield to make it 3-1.
The Hornets responded in the bottom of the inning. Ferrara reached on an infield single and alertly went to third when an errant throw from the left side went all the way to the fence. Tower then drove him home with two out to get the Hornets within a run.
They tied it in the fifth when Hamilton led off with a double, moved up on a groundball out and scored on Tower’s second hit of the game.
With one out in the sixth, Beany helped his cause with a single up the middle. He moved into scoring position on a sac bunt by Matt Jette and scored when Bohl delivered his 13th RBI of the season.
On the diamond, Beany sat down the side in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings and retired 15 of the last 16 men he faced.
“My curveball was my go-to pitch today,” Beany said. “It took a little while to warm up, but by the end of the game, it was there.”
Ryan said he had some arms ready to go, but he was happy to see the big junior settle in.
“He looked a little like he was nervous the first inning and just throwing darts, if you will,” Ryan said. “He wasn’t throwing his hard stuff, he wasn’t throwing his curveball, he wasn’t gripping right. We just took him inning-by-inning, and every inning he went out there he just got better and better and better.”
And, Ryan hopes, his team just gets better and better as it moves on to its next post-season tournament, the Western Mass sectional.
“It actually works out well for us because if we didn’t play this today, we were looking to play it after the Western Mass tournament,” he said of the State Voc final. “I wanted it as a learning tool, good or bad, and fortunately it was good for us. So now we have a little more momentum going into the Western Mass tournament.”