By Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7)
WESTWOOD, Mass. – After spinning eight shutout frames only to watch his team lose in extra innings to Xaverian last Patriots’ Day, Brian Gaughan couldn’t wait to get another shot at the Hawks.
One year later, the Rebels ace earned a shot at redemption and he held to escape a jam in the bottom of the seventh inning and seal a 2-0 non league win for Walpole on the road.
“[Gaughan] has wanted this game for a long time and there’s certainly some motivation for him based on last year,” said Walpole head coach Chris Costello. “The kid wants the ball and he’s an old school type of guy who believes if he starts the game, he’ll finish the game or you’ll have to drag him out of there.”
Walpole (3-0) leadoff hitter Andrew Moore slapped a triple down the right field line on the second pitch of the game from Hawks starter Dan Chapski (5 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, HB, 5 K’s, 91 pitches). After a hit batsman and a walk, groundout RBIs from Bryan Kraus and Gaughan spotted the Rebels an early 2-0 lead.
Gaughan (CG, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K’s, 94 pitches) required just 78 pitches while allowing one hit and striking out six over the next six frames, but Xaverian (3-3) would not go quietly in the last of the seventh.
Hawks center fielder Vicente Mendoza led off with a single and A.J. Ryan followed with a towering fly ball to left field that got caught in the wind a little bit and fell just short of the wall for a ground-rule double.
With runners on second and third, Gaughan waved off his coach and asserted his desire to close out the game.
“This was my game,” said Gaughan. “I didn’t want to come out. After pitching against [Xaverian] last year in a great game I needed a different outcome this year. I’m a competitive guy and I don’t like to lose.”
Sure enough, the senior righthander got out of the jam with a broken-bat pop up and a fielder’s choice to seal a huge resume-building win for the Bay State Conference Rebels.
“He’s our guy,” Costello continued on Gaughan. “Two-run game, bottom of the seventh against a storied program- that’s his game to win or lose and he knows what he has to do.”
“He’s a competitor and every time he’s on the mound it’s infectious throughout our team. We have a really good feeling that we’re going to win if we score a run or two with Brian on the mound.”
For Xaverian, this marks another early-season loss that hurts the Hawks resume, but could also teach some valuable lessons according to head coach Gerry Lambert.
“When we play great competition, it teaches us how and what you need to do to win close games,” said Lambert. “If we play well and lose, then I feel as a coach that’s something we can build upon going forward. We try not to worry about the results too much, as long as we’re striving to improve.”
Lambert went on to denote that the margin between winning and losing in these types of games has become even smaller now that teams are aggressively scheduling nonleague action to build their resumes for a bid at the MIAA Division 1A Super 8 bid.
If the Hawks had been able to cut down a runner at home plate on the first run-scoring ground out in the first inning, or Ryan’s double had skipped off the wall instead of bouncing over for an automatic double, things could have gone the other way for the home team.
Yet Walpole’s coaching staff is thrilled to have executed on the road over a Catholic Conference power.
“If you want to get to that big dance, that Super 8, you have to play these games,” said Costello. “You have to not just play these games, you have to win them. Maybe at the end of the year, we’re lucky enough to be in that conversation.”
Chapski gives up triple, HBP and BB and allows 2 runs to score on groundouts, but K ends 1st. 2-0 Walpole. X coming up pic.twitter.com/Obt4WlfqU1— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) April 17, 2017
End 2: Walpole 2, Xaverian 0. Rebels ace Brian Gaughan looking sharp @GlobeSchools @HerewegoJoe pic.twitter.com/6Q32BFefMz— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) April 17, 2017
A two-base error puts a runner on 3rd but Gaughan picks up teammate with a K and pop-out. 2-0 Walpole after 4 pic.twitter.com/gpCWb9RF8z— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) April 17, 2017
Nice snag by X reliever Kyle Sylvester for an inning ending DP. Walpole 2, Xaverian 0 with Gaughan warming up for Bottom 7th pic.twitter.com/ddreJphv5x— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) April 17, 2017
Gaughan allows leadoff single but strikes out McLaughlin for first out of 7th pic.twitter.com/EaZ7PUORVJ— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) April 17, 2017
Final: Walpole 2, Xaverian 0. Brian Gaughan escapes a bases loaded jam to finish it for Rebels (3-0). @GlobeSchools @HerewegoJoe pic.twitter.com/s1mmZTtnjH— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) April 17, 2017