HOLYOKE, Mass. – The Oakmont baseball team Tuesday used one big hit and one huge pitching performance to hand Taconic a 2-0 loss in the semi-finals of the Division 3 State Tournament at MacKenzie Stadium.
Oakmont’s Caleb Allen struck out 13 hitters and allowed just two hits in a complete-game gem to send the fourth-seeded Spartans (22-2) into the state final against No. 2 Medfield (18-5), an 8-4 winner over Bishop Stang on Tuesday.
For the Thunder (20-4), Matt Lee was the hard-luck loser, striking out eight and allowing just three hits – none after the second inning.
Taconic coach Kevin Stannard said it was the best two pitching performances he has seen this spring.
“Matt had the one hiccup, and that was it,” Stannard said. “But that kid was outstanding. … As we’ve talked all year long, our hitting has been our Achilles, and, obviously, we were overmatched today.”
Stannard said he knew the challenge his team would face from Allen.
“Obviously, we did some scouting, and we knew what he was all about,” Stannard said. “He threw a lot of strikes. We just couldn’t catch up to the ball. … Sometimes, a guy just has your number, and he certainly had ours.”
Allen faced just two batters over the minimum in the win.
Taconic’s first hit and first baserunner came in the bottom of the third, when Eddie Ferris
Jake Hall led off by dropping a single into center field. Oakmont erased him on a double play.
In the fourth, Lee drew a leadoff walk, but Allen left him at first by striking out the next three batters in order.
By that time, Allen already was protecting a two-run lead thanks to the Spartans’ second inning.
Isaiah Smith led off with an infield single on a grounder deep in the hole at third.
Colby Gouldrup followed with the game’s only extra base hit, an RBI triple deep to right center to make it 1-0. He then came home on Ben Forbes’ sacrifice fly to left to provide the inning’s first out and the game’s last run.
Oakmont did get runners into scoring position in the third and fourth, but each time Lee left the Spartan there. In the fourth, he matched Allen – striking out three hitters in order after letting the first batter reach base.
Taconic’s second hit of the game came in the bottom of the seventh with two out, when Nick Guachione raced down the first base line to beat the throw for an infield single.
That is where he stayed, though, as Allen ended the game with a strikeout.
“Guac beating that hit out in the last inning, that just shows you the heart of this team,” Stannard said. “There was never any quit. I’m just so proud of what they’ve done and what they’ve meant to this program. It’s certainly going to be sad to see those seniors leave.”
Although Taconic came up short in its bid to get back to the state title game for the first time since winning it all in 2021, there is no denying the mark this group has left on the program, Stannard said.
“This group has been outstanding,” he said. “Three years … 35-1 and at home and now, I think, 59-5 overall in three years. Because of the COVID year, they missed out. They shouldn’t hang their heads. We had an outstanding season – another 20 win season. And their effort has been there since Day One.”