NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- After leading for most of the afternoon and taking a three-run lead into the sixth inning, the McCann Tech baseball team Saturday needed a stopper to keep their State Vocational tournament run going.
Dalton Tatro came up with the big out when the Hornets needed it most.
Tatro got the final out swinging at a third strike with the tying run on second base as McCann Tech knocked off Upper Cape Cod RVT and advanced to the state final for the second year in a row.
"We tend to have a flair for the dramatic down the stretch, the last couple of games, I think our last three have been two-run games or less," McCann Tech coach Ken Recore said. "I'm very proud of those guys. I would have liked to have been in the easy chair [the last couple of innings], but they battled right on throughout."
McCann Tech (17-4) won its eighth straight game in advancing to the finals of the four-team State Voc small school division tourney.
The top-seeded Hornets will host either No. 2 Old Colony or second-seeded Westfield Tech, who play on Sunday, for a chance to defend the title McCann Tech took from Wesfield Tech last year.
That final likely will be scheduled after Tuesday, when WTA and McCann Tech each learn when they will open play in the Western Mass tournament.
On Saturday, the Hornets got 5-1/3 strong innings from starting pitcher Jared Blondin, who scattered five hits and was tagged with three runs before giving the ball to Tatro.
Tatro moved over from first base with two men in scoring position and one run across in a 4-2 ballgame.
"Coming in when there's runners on base is definitely a difficult task to handle," Tatro said. "You just have to come in with a clean mind, clean focus and put your nose to the grindstone. Try to do the best you can with what you've got."
Tatro struck out the first man he faced, but he then walked two and threw a wild pitch to allow one of the inherited runners to score. Finally, he got popup in foul territory that catcher Andrew Koch snared to end the inning.
In the seventh, Tatro retired the first two men he faced, but a walk and a passed ball put the tying run in scoring position.
But Tatro got the next man swinging for his 77th strikeout in 50-1/3 innings this spring.
Blondin, who stranded six runners over the first five innings himself, said that he had lost something off his fastball by the time the sixth inning rolled around.
"I think I was running out of gas," Blondin said. "I wasn't getting any speed on the ball at all anymore. I had no control on the ball, I was throwing it way up high. When they took me out, that was the longest walk I've ever taken.
"We have two aces, though, me and [Tatro]. Not many teams have two aces on their team. and we do. So that's an advantage that we've got."
The Hornets also have the advantage that their aces can club the ball.
Both Blondin and Tatro contributed in a three-run third-inning rally that gave the Hornets a 3-1 lead.
Tatro got things started with a one-out double to left. And Caleb Rondeau followed with a single to put runners at the corner.
After Andrew Levesque worked a walk to load the bases, an errant pickoff throw to first allowed Tatro to score, tying the game and leaving runners at second and third.
Blondin plated them both with a single to right to give McCann a two-run lead it never relinquished.
In the fifth, McCann Tech got a needed insurance run.
Rondeau led off with a walk and moved up on a Levesque sacrifice bunt. Rondeau then stole second and scored on Logan Briggs' single to left to make it 4-1.