Groton-Dunstable Tops Wahconah in D3 State Semi-Final

By Stephen Sports
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WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Wahconah baseball team had a lot of big wins on its run to the Western Massachusetts Division 3 title.
On Tuesday, it had to settle for some small victories.
“We had opportunities,” Wahconah coach Rob Cowdrey said after an 8-1 loss to Groton-Dunstable in the state semi-finals. “We had guys on base. I would be willing to bet that we put some pressure on [G-D pitcher Joe Simeone] that he probably hasn’t seen all that often.
“From what I understand, he had four walks all year, and we walked four times and had two hit batters. So I think we did put pressure on him.
“But in the end, we struggled.”
Wahconah left seven men on base and struck out three times with men in scoring position. Groton-Dunstable’s Simeone earned 11 strikeouts in six innings of work to send his team on to Saturday’s state championship game.
Three different Wahconah pitchers combined to give up four earned runs as the Western Mass champs struggled in the field with five errors.
But Cowdrey said even the defensive miscues may have been in part due to the pressure Wahconah faced on the offensive side.
“I think it was probably the pressure of the game getting to them,” he said. “They wanted this. Without a doubt, they wanted to make it to that state final game.
“While they wouldn’t show it, I think there was a little bit of intimidation with their pitcher today. And once you get down four or five runs … no matter how hard you try, you can’t help but think, ‘How are we going to pull ourselves out of this when this kid has a .18 ERA?’ “
Groton grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second inning, cashing in on an error and earning one hit off Wahconah starter Gage Frazier. The Crusaders (22-0) tacked on a run in the third, but Wahconah, the designated home team, got one back in the bottom of the inning.
Ben Schmitt led off with a walk and moved up on a wild pitch and a passed ball before Ty Cowdrey dropped a single into right field to score Schmitt and make it 3-1.
Groton got that run back and added another in the fourth when Justin Watt launched a two-run triple into center field for the best hit all day off Wahconah’s pitchers.
Frazier departed in the fifth when Patrick Butler came out of the pen to strand two men. Butler went on to strike out four men in two innings of work, but he ran into trouble in the top of the seventh.
Groton used a pair of hits, a suicide squeeze and two more Wahconah errors to score three runs and effectively put the game out reach.
Matt Naughton came in from left field to start the bottom of the seventh on the mound for the Crusaders, and he struck out three more to give his team 14 Ks on the day.
Despite the miscues in the field and struggles at the plate, Cowdrey was proud of the way his team performed right until the final out was recorded.
“I just give them a lot of credit for sticking with it right to the end,” he said. “We didn’t give up, even though we were down, 8-1. That’s what been driving us all year: our heart. And we showed it right to the end.
“I just told these guys: There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We made it farther than any Division 3 team in Western Mass. That’s a successful season.”
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