Mestre, Taconic Seniors Add Another Western Mass Crown
AMHERST, Mass. -- Taconic senior Izaiya Mestre gave his teammates everything he had.
And it was more than Minnechaug could handle.
Pitching on two days rest, Mestre gave up just one hit and one unearned run for a complete game victory as Taconic knocked off the Falcons, 8-1, to claim the school’s first Western Massachusetts title in 40 years.
Deonte Sandifer went 3-for-4, and Cedric Rose was 2-for-5 in the Western Mass Division 1 title game at the University of Massachusetts’ Lorden Field. But the star of the show was Mestre, who continued to dazzle offenses and picked up his second tournament win in four days.
“Off two days rest, it’s kind of hard, but a lot of massages and icing can do it for you,” Mestre said. “That’s what I did.
“I had nothing at all [left at the end]. Everything I got, I was just throwing it.”
Taconic coach Kevin Stannard, who reached the summit in his 25th year at the school, said he had no concerns about Mestre coming off a 1-0 win in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
“He was good to go,” Stannard said. “He was honest with us. He got a little massage last night, and he was ready to go. No worries at all. These kids are gamers. And it was phenomenal.”
Mestre has been phenomenal all year for Taconic, which takes a 22-1 record into Tuesday night’s state semi-final in Worcester against the Central Mass champion.
“Izaiya was just, once again, amazing,” Stannard said. “If that was an unearned run, he hasn’t given up an earned run all year long in about 56 or 57 innings. That’s phenomenal for a high school kid.”
Minnechaug got its run in the sixth inning, after Taconic already had a 6-0 lead.
Nicholas Scibelli drew a leadoff walk and went to second on an error. Then Steven Pickering doubled to center field for Minnechaug’s only hit of the game; Sciebelli scored, but Taconic catcher Brett Murphy hung on in a violent collision at the plate to retire the trail runner for the first out of the inning.
Mestre got the next two outs on ground balls to leave a runner at third base.
Offensively, Taconic got things started in the third inning. Jack Cooney walked and Jake McNeice hit an infield single to set the table. Drew DeMartino singled to center to score the game’s first run, and Ryan Abel later dropped a single into right to score McNeice, making it 2-0.
Taconic kept adding runs over the next four innings to build its lead.
In the fourth, McNeice drew a bases loaded walk. In the fifth, Devon Walker singled to drive in Murphy, and Sandifer plated Walker with a triple. In the sixth, Taconic went small ball, when Murphy’s sacrifice bunt scored McNeice. A pair of sac flies in the seventh from McNeice and DeMartino rounded out the scoring.
Although Taconic has at least one game left -- and is hoping for two -- Saturday’s win marks a major accomplishment for an accomplished senior class, bookending its Western Mass football title from the fall.
“We think about it a lot, especially since we didn’t get that one in basketball when we were right there,” Walker said. “I’m just happy because, growing up, baseball was always our sport. We won in football, and I was glad. I was a big part of that -- probably a bigger part than I was for this team -- but I was just as happy to get this because these are guys I grew up with.
“These are my brothers.”
And some of those brothers, like Abel, Mestre and Sandifer, did not get a chance to taste victory in the fall with the football team.
“We’ve been telling them since Day One: It’s the best feeling in the world, holding up that trophy at the end,” Walker said. “We just wanted to make sure that everyone got to feel that before we graduated.”
For the record, Taconic graduates on Sunday, but the seniors on the baseball team have a little more work to do on Tuesday.